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Very careful article. I know it’s a passionate subject for many people. But can you really play both sides of the field like this and be taken seriously? Follow the money on this one. The human body was meant to be outdoors. It’s insane to think we are not naturally equipped to survive sun exposure. Some common sense goes a long way…
This article is surprisingly confusing. Just how did sunscreen become ubiquitously recommended without sufficient research? Also, it should be more clearly stated that chemical, not physical sunscreens are being questioned.
As a brown South Asian, I use sunscreen primarily to prevent wrinkles. However, I treat it as the last defense, not the first. My hierarchy is 1. Avoid midday sun 2. When outside a lot (at least in summer) wear a hat. 3. Sunscreen reapplied as needed or every 2 hours. I use chemical.myself but am thinking to switch to physical barrier because it seems to be less sweat inducing.
I am 70 years old and during my life I have been located in some of the warmest spots on earth…for this past weekend in the DC area, as has always been the case for me….I have used Baby Oil and enjoy the Sun….and life. People have been living in Sunny places since the beginning of time. I know of folks who have stayed out of the Sun most of the entire life but passed away because of skin cancer. Give me the Sun…and give me a sense of freedom to say bring it on. Too much worry in America these days and not enough humility and courage to live the almighty heck out of everyday. What is it Frank said “I did it my way.” By the way, it was very hot and sunny in Vietnam in 1968-69, and Sunscreen was the last thing on our minds, especially my brothers in the bush. Best to all!!
For many decades, one of the sunscreen ingredients became carcinogenic when exposed to Uv radiation.
And you should read some of that tanning bed, ‘research.’ It’s so bad, you’d have to hold y0ur nose. Total lack of scientific design and protocol.
Sunscreen is a severe contributor to mounting vitamin D deficiency in the population. It is especially a problem for people of color since darker skin absords less vitamin D.
Low Vit. D levels kill more people from colon and breast cancer annually than melanoma will in 100 years. The sunscreen industry has been playing us for fools. Vit D from sunlight lasts longer and works better than taking pills.
Start slowly. Work your way up to hours. (Unless you have vitiligo or albinism.)
For goddess’ sake, let your children play in the sun unless you love buying braces and expanders.
But I understand one only needs about 15 minutes of actual exposure to get enough vitamin D for the day. Although I wonder now if that’s only good for white people up north.
The immune system is a huge factor in getting or not getting melanoma, and its treatment – and of course sun exposure boosts your immune system. Stress also compromises the immune system, and once I stopped focusing on sun exposure as the cause of my melanoma, I could see the pattern of deep stress that had led to my being susceptible to producing this cancer. Sadly, even the specialists are rigid in just suggesting avoiding the sun. This just isn’t good enough.
When I followed the doctors’ prescribed covering up from April to October, I noticed that I felt like a major illness was imminent as soon as I reached February. My sunshine-related vitamin D reserves that i should have been soaking in during those crucial months had never been able to be filled.
My emphasis now is enjoying the healthy sunshine and doing all I can to boost my immune system in general.
Hey keke, as far as helping your immune system and treating the melanoma, look into eating seriously seriously real healthy food, and really look into finding yourself some full-spectrum, organic(if possible), CBD oil. Its derived from hemp which is the best plant on the planet for humans, no doubt.
Sun exposure has both risks and benefits. How can we make good choices while only looking at one side of the equation? Perhaps it increases the risk of skin cancer, while decreasing the risk of other diseases. The research just hasn’t been done.
I’m white, 70, love the sun, barely ever used sunscreen, overexposed myself, especially in my rash youth, a lot, have spots but no cancer, yet anyway. I realize I’m lucky, or have appropriate genes. But I look at all the people, entire families, indicating the level of brainwashing present, who wear ridiculous clothing, covering up all skin all the time, looking like they’re from another planet, and it’s abundantly clear there is some very strange thinking going on. The sun is not our enemy, and a little common sense regarding how much exposure we allow goes a long way.
I started using sunscreen in my early 20s when it began to be discussed in women’s magazines in the UK. Now at age 66 my face looks 15 years younger than my peers. Vitaligo(skin cells absent melanin) entered my life in my mid 30s and it became even more important for me as those areas affected have no protection at all and will burn deeply and remain red for weeks. Having moved to Canada in my mid 20s my choice of product became supplied by the US market.
Having a passion for outdoor activity, skiing, horses, sailing and gardening, my life has been reasonable even though I have slathered on the creams daily, “Kids” lotion SPF60 UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum Coverage.
Disaster struck when my skin suddenly began to react a couple of weeks ago. The ingredient list revealed that it contained the trifecta Homosalate, Octocrylene and Avobenzone. Searching through all the products on the market in Canada I found that ALL of them contained these chemicals except the mineral based zinc protective ingredients !!
One of the lotions in my cabinet had been obtained in the UK – this product did not trigger and allergic reaction – that list revealed quite different ingredients.
This dependence by governments to only rely on testing by their own organisations, FDA in this instance, results in the public getting limited advice, limited products, limited safety and very expensive testing that duplicates existing certifications.
We can only hope that this situation improves over time. Yes a naive hope unfortunately.
I am an American living in Australia. This message originally came out in the 1980s and has been added to since then. I have young grandchildren who must have covering sunhats for school or they don’t play outside on days when there is a potential for UV exposure. Sunscreens are in schools for students to use. It is a jingle that you seen in ads on TV, radio etc. Because Australia has a high incidence of skin cancer, this message is drilled into children at a very young age and they listen and follow the rules. Preventing skin cancer is about much more than just sunscreen, young children I know in summer have rashie sun protected bathing suits on with partial coverage of their arms and legs, plus hats. Americans might look at a model that includes more than sunscreen for sun protection.
“Over the years, the sun protection message has expanded to Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide! and Sid the Seagull has returned to our TV screens with a new and improved jingle. Sid asks us to protect ourselves in five ways from skin cancer during sun protection times:
Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
Slop on SPF 30 or higher broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors or more often if perspiring or swimming.
Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
Slide on sunglasses.”
I love that! Especially because it removes
the ‘but it’s TOO HOT to dress like that’
bs excuse. It’s not as hot here as it is
Homo sapiens evolved over 8 million in Africa since they separated from our brothers the gorillas and chimpanzees under the same sun today and never needed no sun creams or sun glasses. All the animals of the earth are adapted to sunlight, as it could not be otherwise.
There are a few problems with your line of thought. One of them involves evolution. For evolution to occur, you’d have to die of skin cancer before you’ve had some, or any children. Skin cancer generally occurs later in life, after you would traditionally had many children. Therefore there’d be little evolutionary protective effect of a genetic mutation that protects against the sun. Not saying that such a mutation couldn’t occur, but that it’s effect would be minimal. You’re also assuming that light radiation has been consistent throughout the last 8 million years, which it really hasn’t been. Potentially more during some magnetic pole reversals, but I’m no expert. What I’m stressing though, is the need for some more critical thinking.
Normally I don’t post comments, but sunscreen is my personal enemy! Back in 1983 I used a moisturizer containing Oxybenzone 3 and lost the majority of my face and neck to reactions to this nasty drug. Why do I know this? My dermatologist obtained all the ingredients and after testing ingredients – bingo! It was Oxybenzone 3. Interestingly, there was no reaction until under ultraviolet rays – even with cloud cover I had a severe reaction.
So I could stop wearing it, but what about the trail of sunblock people leave on telephones, car seats, lawn chairs, toilet seats at the beach, door handles, in pools and hot tubs, etc. People left the trail just hugging or even kissing me. Once the rash began I had no choice but to use very nasty cortisone prescription ointments, affecting my adrenals for the worse. So my endocrine system was affected. What really makes me mad is the sunblock dispensers at Tucson’s Desert Museum!
Regarding UVA and UVB rays: UVB rays come out mid-day and it is UVB that allows us to absorb Vitamin D. UVA rays do nothing but harm us. So most sunblocks are affecting people’s health by messing with our endocrine system and Vitamin D status.
I see ZERO point to using them. Just cover up with a big hat, long sleeves, when out for long periods. Expose yourself to UVB rays mid-day for 20-30 minutes, then cover up. Stop using trans-fats and highly processed vegetable oils. If you must use a sunblock, use mineral based. I’ve seen articles about micronized minerals being a problem so I’d be very cautious.
I don’t burn anymore, just watch closely for sunblock users and places they’ve been.
Thank you for taking the time to post this!
Excellent story and very interesting comments – however, as a toxicologist who has worked in this industry for over 40 years, I would like to bring a few other points to peoples attention. 1st – over exposure to the sun causes skin cancer – that we all agree on; 2nd – using an SPF 50 and above fools people into thinking they are protected from the sun, causing them to increase their time in the sun which increases their risks of skin cancer – this is call “Sunscreen Abuse” (International Agency for Research on Cancer – Br J Dermatol., 161:40-45); 3rd – there is no data supporting that sunscreens prevent, stop or even slowdown the incidence of skin cancer – in fact, skin cancer has significantly increased “GLOBALLY” since we started using sunscreens frequently about 40 years ago (American Cancer Society – CA Cancer J Clin., 68:7-30 and International Agency for Research on Cancer – Int. J. Cancer., 88:838–842.); Lastly and most important – there are literally hundreds of scientific papers that demonstrate that there are many adverse reactions to chemical sunscreens in numerous aquatic and terrestrial species, including humans (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-1978-N-0018-1508)! This is why FDA is relooking at the safety of these chemicals and why they have removed 2 sunscreen actives from the “GRASE” list and are questioning 12 other chemicals.
At this time – avoiding sun exposure during peak hours (10 AM – 3 PM), minimizing sun exposure on beaches (beach umbrellas/cabanas), wearing protective clothing (including hats and sunglasses) and “LASTLY” using a non-nano size zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreen on skin exposed to sun appears to be the best known practice to avoid skin cancer.
I wonder if the first commenter understood the article. “Nowhere in the entire thing do you present any evidence that contradicts suggestions given by the AAD and other numerous health organizations.” Yeah, exactly – because there’s isn’t any, that is like the core thesis of the piece. “Overall, sunscreen has been proven to be one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer” – you ask for contradictory evidence, then provide none of your own. I think the author was pretty clear in stating multiple times that it’s not that sunscreen is bad, it’s that the evidence that it protects against skin cancer is far flimsier than most people think and more evidence about safety of specific chemicals commonly used in it is needed.
Sunscreen is not specifically designated as prevention of cancer. It prevents the damage and burns related to over exposure to the sun and reducing one factor of risk. Truth is the causes of skin cancer when studied found the perfect the risk is 50/50 genetics vs damage.
This is an extremely poorly researched article. Nowhere in the entire thing do you present any evidence that contradicts suggestions given by the AAD and other numerous health organizations. All you do is point out possible downsides of using sunscreens, which are all either already acknowledged or misleading, mostly for fearmongering. For one, of course sunscreen is not a perfect shield against the sun, (and no company claims this) and on the back of every sunscreen you can find, it will recommend to wear protective clothing and find shade and avoid direct sunlight. Secondly, sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as drugs (which is why some filters available elsewhere in the world are not available in the US), meaning they must prove safety and efficacy (an SPF rating). We are not relying purely on the company to provide a functioning product. Thirdly, the study published in JAMA about chemical sunscreen filter absorption says NOTHING about the safety of chemical sunscreens, only that further research is needed. Also, in the study, the subjects applied much larger amounts of sunscreen that would ever be used in actual day to day use (4 times a day to 70% of body surfaces). And this study only applies to chemical sunscreen filters, not mineral filters (zinc and titanium), meaning that even if there was a risk, you can use mineral sunscreens instead. Lastly, while darker skinned individuals are less prone to skin cancer, there are still numerous studies showing its importance, and your assertion that dermatologists’ recommendations are disproportionally hurting darker skinned people is frankly ridiculous and unsuppported.
Overall, sunscreen has been proven to be one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer, backed up by some of the largest medical organizations, and most of the claims in this article are misleading.
Which sunscreen company do you work for?