Using Sunscreen Puts You at a HIGHER Risk for Cancer

| Jun 1, 2016

woman relaxing in recliner under the umbrella at a beach in Miami, Florida

One look at the data on skin cancer is enough to worry anyone: the National Cancer Institute reports that the incidence of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970’s, and that number is continuing to climb.[1]

While these figures aren’t debatable, the real causes of skin cancer are. Sun exposure nearly always gets blamed, but the reality is much more complicated. As we’ve written about before, our society’s sun-phobia is based on many misunderstandings, and is often reinforced by the propaganda of sunscreen companies, who would love for you to continue “protecting” yourself with their products.

But sunscreen is not the way to prevent skin cancer. While it can be a helpful last resort if you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time in the sun, its use comes with all sorts of risks.

Most sunscreens are filled with all kinds of toxins, and even the healthy ones block your skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D (for which reason an increasing number of health experts are claiming the sun avoidance is much more dangerous than the sun itself).

If you’re skeptical, consider this fact: four independent studies conducted in the 1990’s found that individuals who use the most sunscreen are at highest risk for skin cancer[2]  It’s no coincidence that the rate of skin cancer incidence began to increase precipitously right around the time that sunscreen usage became widespread.

The real ways to protect your skin

Make no mistake: taking measures to prevent skin cancer is extremely important. Let’s take a look at some safe, holistic practices that are much more effective than hiding from the sun or slathering toxic sunscreens all over yourself.

Don’t be afraid of the sun. It’s long been said that “the dose makes the poison,” and this adage applies equally to the sun. While UVB ray exposure is associated with skin cancer, it’s also essential for endogenous vitamin D production.

We’d therefore do well to stop fearing the sun, and instead think of it like other medicines that require specific dosages in order to remain beneficial. Given that your skin can produce 2,000-4,000 IU of vitamin D with fifteen minutes of sun exposure on a clear day, researchers recommend receiving 8-24 minutes of natural sunlight on your arms and legs without sunscreen every day.

If you know you’ll be outside for a longer period of time, try covering up with sun-protective clothing and a hat, and only use sunscreen when absolutely necessary. When you must use sunscreen, choose natural mineral products instead of the more popular, chemical-laced varieties (even mineral sunscreens aren’t perfect, but using them sparingly is acceptable if you have no other way to prevent getting sunburned). Ideally, learn how to make your own sunscreen.

If you have a fair complexion and are worried about spending even a small amount of time in the sun, be aware that you may be at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency—which is a more serious risk factor for skin cancer than sun exposure itself. Regardless of your sun habits, have your vitamin D levels tested; if your levels are below 40 ng/ml, spend more time in the sun or take a vitamin D supplement.

Optimize your diet. You can also prevent skin cancer by ensuring that your skin has all the nutrients it requires to stay strong and healthy. And there’s no better way to do so than to fill your diet with nutrient-dense, healing foods. Antioxidant-rich plant compounds are best, like the caffeic acid in spinach, coffee, olive and wine, the resveratrol in dark berries, the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea, the ursolic acid in Holy Basil, and the curcuminoids in turmeric.

Cutting-edge research has even demonstrated that eating chlorophyll-rich plants not only protects your skin from damage, but also allows your body to manufacture energy directly from sunlightjust like plants do through photosynthesis! This emerging field of study offers even more evidence that we’re not meant to hide from the sun—some researchers even believe that human beings evolved to be relatively hairless in order to be able to absorb more sunlight.

Avoid tanning beds. A study published in JAMA Dermatology reports that a whopping 35% of Americans use tanning beds—a figure that has increased dramatically in recent decades. Some experts believe that this could have something to do with skyrocketing melanoma rates. The same study even estimates that tanning beds cause up to 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. every year.[3]

Besides the fact that people simply spend way too much time in tanning beds, artificial sources of UV rays also don’t promote vitamin D synthesis (which helps protect against skin damage in the case of natural sun exposure). There’s limited evidence to support the notion that UVB-producing beds without magnetic ballasts can stimulate vitamin D production safely,[4] but spending a bit of time outdoors is still your safest and most affordable option.

Detox regularly. As we’ve discussed many times before, regular detoxification practices are an essential part of maintaining optimal health. Helping your body rid itself of toxins frees up its energy to protect against illness and disease. Eating the detoxifying foods mentioned above, practicing intermittent fasting and juice cleansing, cold showers and sauna sessions, and oil pulling are all excellent detox strategies.

Keeping the liver and kidneys detoxed has been shown to lower the risk of cancer—and because these organs aid in the conversion of vitamin D from sunlight and food into a usable form, keeping them clean and optimally functioning helps ward off skin cancer specifically.

By adopting these practices, you’ll not only be providing your body with superior skin cancer protection, but also freeing yourself from the reliance upon commercially bought sunscreens, whose manufacturers don’t consider your health a priority anyway.

 


References

[1] https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/skin-cancer-on-the-rise/

[2] http://draxe.com/75-of-sunscreens-are-toxic-what-to-do-instead/

[3] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/29/indoor-tanning-increase/5028431/

[4] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/11/11/can-a-tanning-bed-be-healthy.aspx

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