hands catching the sunset

Skin Cancer and the Benefits of Sun Light

hands catching the sunset with light shining through

Is it time for a “radical rethink” of the advice given to people about how much time they should spend in the sun? This article from Wendyl Nissen looks at keeping sun safe whilst still getting the benefit of sunlight.

“As a skin cancer sufferer who has had two moles removed I am very aware of the dangers of the sun, but I also think we tend to slather sun screen on too liberally and rely too heavily on it especially when some ingredients in regular sunscreens have proved to be quite nasty.”

“I am also aware the we need Vitamin D for good health and the best way to get that is from the sun. So every day, providing it is sunny, I allow my skin to get some sun for 20 minutes either in the morning or afternoon – never at it’s strongest at midday. And if I’m out in the sun I cover up with long sleeve cotton shirts and a big hat rather than slather on sunscreen.

Recently I read this interesting article which says skin cancer prevention campaigns may be steering people away from healthy doses of sunlight, which is now thought to protect against high blood pressure, heart disease and possibly stroke, a group of British scientists say.

In a provocative presentation to a Melbourne conference a few years ago Martin Feelisch, a professor of clinical and experimental sciences at the University of Southampton, questioned whether it was time for a “radical rethink” of the advice given to people about how much time they should spend in the sun.

Professor Feelisch said recent epidemiological studies suggested that the health benefits of moderate sunlight exposure outweighed the harmful effects of UV radiation on the skin.

So this summer be sensible about the sun. Don’t think that because you and your family are slathered in sunscreen it is necessarily the best thing for you.”

Have a look at this great article by the Environmental Working Group about sunscreen which recommends the following tips for staying sun safe:

* Do not use sunscreen as a tool to prolong your time in the sun.
* Cover up! Hats, shirts and sunglasses are the best protection.
* Avoid sunburn!
* Do not use a tanning bed or sunbathe.
* Protect kids! Early life sunburns are worse, so keep little ones out of the hot sun.
* Pick a sunscreen with strong UVA protection.
* Get vitamin D. There is speculation but not proof that adequate levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of melanoma. But we know that vitamin D is good for combatting other types of cancer. Commit to getting screened for vitamin D deficiency.
* Examine your skin. Check your skin regularly for new moles that are tender or growing. Ask your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.

If you’d like to make your own sunscreen, Wendyl has an excellent recipe. It’s a bit fiddly to make, mainly because sourcing the ingredients takes a while. We can’t give a guarantee of its SPF capabilities, however, it is about SPF15 on medium skin.

Here’s the link to the recipe.

If you’d like to purchase natural SPF50 reef safe sunscreen here’s the link.

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