Dangers of using sunscreen: How to protect yourself naturally

The best solution to beating the summer sun without depleting your Vitamin D intake.
By Salma Awwad
Thu 19 Jun 2014 03:18 PM

In the scorching summer sun, we reach out for our sunscreens and hide in the closest glimpse of shade to avoid its wrath. But is the sun our enemy and the direct cause of cancer?

It might be the contrary. Many researchers has found that most sunscreens on the market actually speed up your risk of skin cancer, as opposed to protecting you, due to their ingredients.

This is no longer seen as alternative news or conspiracy, as independent health research has been saying this for years and it is now considered mainstream. Although they can protect against sunburns, what is the health related cost of using them? And are we getting the vitamin D from the sun that our bodies need if we use sunscreen?

Despite the great abundance of sunlight all year long round, the Gulf region has more prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency.

According to research by Zayed University, 90 percent of women and 70 percent of men are extremely Vitamin D deficient in the UAE. We have been so concerned about protecting ourselves against the sun’s rays that our efforts have had adverse effects in the long term.

Research done the American Cancer Society also has shown that there isn’t a clear link between sun exposure and where melanoma appears. And The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) found that there isn’t a link between skin cancer and countries closer to the equator where sun exposure would be grater.

Only 10 percent of all cancer cases are attributed to all forms of radiation, and UV is a very small part of that. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, rates of cancer have gone up 1800 percent in the past 30 years, but is the sun and depleted ozone to blame?

Of course burning your skin is not healthy and can lead to DNA damage which in turn invites the production of cancer to those areas, but there are a number of factors involved, including nutrition and vitamin intake that play a huge role.

A vitamin D deficiency, for example, is a breeding ground for any health issue and so getting enough sun is important. Here are some quick pointers to how you can secure your vitamin D dosage without being at risk of overexposing yourself:

Protect yourself naturally: Look for sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium minerals and use them only when absolutely necessary. It is not necessary that you wear sunscreen every time you are out in the sun. Sunscreen blocks your body’s ability to absorb any vitamin D from sunlight. So if you plan on being outside for a short period of time, skip the sunscreen and feed your body the vitamin D that will keep it healthy.

Avoid toxic chemicals: The two active ingredients to avoid are Retinyl Palmitate and Oxybenzone. Retinyl Palmitate is a form of topical vitamin A used in sunscreens. However, when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, it has been found to increase the development of skin lesions and tumors. While Oxybenzone is a chemical that can cause hormone disruption and cell damage.

Mother Nature’s solution: Coconut oil has been shown to provide a sun protection factor (SPF) of about 8 when it comes to sun protection. So although its protection isn’t very high, it’s the purest form of protection that can be applied directly to your skin. If you were to apply it often, it would not only offer sun protection, but it would also hydrate the skin making it less susceptible to burning. You may want to try combining natural sunscreens with coconut oil for protection.

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