Sun Exposure, Sun Protection and Skin Cancer

After reading the article, “The New Rules of Sun Safety” hosted on Yahoo!, and then reading the comments, I realize that many people are starting to see the (sun)light. There are a lot of people that are starting to realize that the chemicals in products, in this case sun ‘Ëœprotection’ products, may be the reason for the increase in skin cancer.

Skin cancer rates continue to climb and the age of first onset continues to decline. As the most common form of cancer, skin cancer is a major burden on our health care system. In 2004, the latest information I could find, the most common type of skin cancer, nonmelanoma, cost our health care system over $1.5 billion dollars.

According to the above-mentioned article, it is now being recommended that anti-oxidant rich lotions and creams be pre-applied to the skin before applying sun protection products. Wait, before all the sun ‘Ëœprotection’ products, skin cancer rates were less than a third of the current rate. Skin cancer was most frequently found in older people rather than children and teens.

According to the National Cancer Institute, one cause of the increase in skin cancer is increased recreational use of the sun. While there may be increased recreational exposure to the sun, we are far removed from a time of lower skin cancer rates and higher exposure to the sun through outdoor work such as farming and daily outdoor play. Playgrounds that used to be full of children who had never heard of sun protection lotion all day long sit empty while the little ones are indoors most of the day, in day care centers, due to the need for both parents to work.

There frequent claims that diagnosis has increased with increased monitoring, or we didn’t used to know what skin cancer was. However, skin cancer has been studied for over 100 years. In the last 30 years, skin cancer rates have tripled, almost in direct correlation with the sales and use of chemical sunscreen products. In addition, more Americans spend most of their time indoors and farming has become a job for machines rather than people. It seems that as our species spends more time indoors, wearing sun protection and covering up to protect ourselves from the sun, we are more at risk for developing not only skin cancer, but a variety of other cancers and ailments associated with Vitamin D deficiency. I agree that increased monitoring has reduced the number of deaths associated with skin cancer. Monitoring definitely decreases the number of deaths, but does not increase prevalence. Skin cancer is an obvious cancer with open, weeping wounds or growths and most people were likely to go to a doctor and receive a diagnosis of skin cancer. However, by that time it would have been too late to save the life. So, please, no matter where you stand on the sun protection issue, continue to monitor your skin for changes.

As more and more chemicals in sun protection lotions and creams are shown to increase the risk of developing skin cancer, for example, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, dixoybenzone, oxybenzone, PABA (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA), cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate, ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate, digalloyl trioleate and Menthyl, one must consider that it may not be the sun, but the sun protection concoctions that are the main reason for the increase in skin cancer over the last 30 years,

Common sense is beginning to prevail with regard to sun safety. It appears as though the key is not to burn. If you are going to be outdoors for an extended period, wear a hat and loose clothing that covers most of your body. Apply less toxic sun protection products to exposed areas. However, during your daily routine, or intentional full-body sun exposure, avoid the chemicals; enjoy the sun and the numerous health benefits from a reasonable, healthy level of sun exposure. Take your children outside to enjoy the many playgrounds and recreational facilities for exercise and sun exposure. Keep the visits short or be sure there is plenty of shade available to avoid sunburn.
As a nation, we cannot afford all this skin cancer and sickness associated with our current chemically saturated home and body environments. We need to go back to the way things were before the increase in chemicals, cancers and sickness. It is far less costly to use chemicals when needed to prevent burning, and to enjoy time in the sun for the health benefits of sun exposure than to buy more chemicals, more products and more pills to compensate for the adverse health effects of the chemicals and avoiding, safe, healthy sun exposure.

Resources:

Yahoo!Shine!: The New Rules of Sun Safety

National Cancer Institute: Skin Cancer – Deaths

SkinBiology.com: The Chemical Sunsreen Health Disaster

AOLNews: Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer

FOXNews: Senator Urges Release of Sunscreen Chemical Data