August 21, 2017

Sun Safety: Naturally Protect Yourself

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the viral post about Banana Boat sunscreens. Claims have beensun-safety made that the popular brand has left multiple infants with severe chemical burns. At the time of writing, Health Canada is investigating the claims.

Whether or not the claims are true, parents across Canada are starting to question the products they are using on themselves and on their children, and rightfully so.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised when I stumbled across the post on Facebook. Most popular sunscreens are laden with harmful chemicals that can cause a multitude of side effects.

In my opinion, when it comes to sun safety, natural options are always best.

Sunscreen 101

How does sunscreen work? Chemical agents in sunscreens absorb the sun’s UV rays and convert them into harmless thermal energy or reflect it off the body.

While sunscreen may help protect from sunburns, the chemicals in your sunscreen can pose more of a health risk than the sun itself.

Studies have shown that those who use sunscreen actually have a higher risk of skin cancer than those who don’t. One study reported that the greatest increase in melanoma occurred in regions where sunscreen use is most prevalent and another one showed a higher incidence of basal cell carcinoma in women who used sunscreens.

In fact, sunscreen is linked to about 150,000 cancer cases every year. They have also been shown to:
• Act like estrogen and disrupt hormones;
• Cause allergic reactions; and
• Accumulate in the body.

What’s more, sunscreen can actually block the absorption of vitamin D, and studies have shown that vitamin D can prevent up to 77 types of cancers.

So, all that said, sunscreens are effective in reducing sunburns, but may not reduce the risk of cancer.
The debate over sunscreen, however, is still ongoing and while the debate ensues, you need to educate yourself about sunscreen. The first question that needs to be answered concerning SPF is—what does it mean?

What’s the deal with SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is actually a test designed to measure how much a product protects against UVB rays. It does not test the protection against UVA rays.
For this reason, it gives many a false sense of protection against the sun and many may stay out longer because of it.

There are, however, products on the market that provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays; they contain zinc oxide.

Unfortunately, regulatory bodies have not yet fully established proper standards for the ef?cacy or the safety of sunscreen ingredients. In fact, sunscreen manufacturers are free to market products that haven’t been proven to protect from the sun.

How to Naturally Protect Yourself Against the Sun

1) Use a natural, non-toxic, full-spectrum sunscreen, that contains zinc oxide

Zinc oxide offers broad spectrum protection, meaning it helps to prevent cancer and sunburns. You may be surprised to learn that chemical sunscreens aren’t physical reflectors, meaning they allow the sun’s wavelengths to enter the skin and cause genetic damage.

The ideal sunscreen is both kid- and adult-friendly, highly effective at blocking UVA and UVB rays, and doesn’t have ingredients that break down in the sun. Some great natural options are: Devita’s Solar Body Block, Goddess Garden’s Continuous Spray, and Green Beaver’s Certified Organic SPF 27.

2) Beware of bug repellent

Make sure also you don’t combine it with bug repellent as the ingredients in the repellent will make you absorb a higher amount of the chemicals present in the sunscreen;

3) Use UV-resistant clothing

One other option to protect yourself from the sun—if you have to be outside for a while, is to buy some UV-resistant clothing. They come with protective factors as high as 40;

4) Go gradually

To avoid being burnt, limit your sun exposure to ten minutes a day.  Gradually increase your time spent in the sun as the summer season continues—in a few weeks you will be able to have normal sun exposure without risk of a burn or cancer;

5) Balance your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio

In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development.  To lessen your chance of getting skin cancer incorporate more Omega-3s into your diet as our North American diets are already high in Omega-6s; and

6) Don’t be fooled by super high SPFs

They protect against UVB rays, which cause sunburns but can leave your skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. They also give you a false sense of security. 60 SPF is just 2% more effective than 30 SPF at blocking UVB rays.

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