Friday, April 25, 2008

Throw out the sunscreen?

I can't remember a time when my mother didn't scold me for running outside without sunscreen. My father's (mythological?) cousin died of melanoma. My father has had several "scares" himself. My mother attributes her youthful skin to staying out of the sun. All in all, I've been pretty programmed to believe the sun is Public Enemy #1. That said, it's pretty understandable that although I cringe at the sight of my pastey winter complexion, I'm still hesitant to stay out in the summer sun without 45+ sunscreen. It wasn't until this year that I began thinking a little more about our friendly cellestial neighbor...

As my goal is to keep things simple, I'll spare all the details, but reference some of the sites where I've found this information at the bottom of the post.

My sunscreen research summed up in three simple points:
1. They contain powerful chemicals that may cause/contribute to basal and squamous cell carcinomas.
2. They block UVB but not UVA rays, leading us to believe it's ok to stay outside for as long as we'd like!
3. When wearing sunscreen, we do not absorb the vitamin D necessary for healthy bone growth.
4. Vitamin D synthesis occurs between the hours of 10am - 2pm!

Now, I'm not advocating for tanning beds or all-day lobster bakes, but I think there can be a happy medium. I experimented with coconut oil today on a two hour hike (parts of it were very shady) and ended up with slightly pink cheeks and a bit of color on my shoulders. I plan to forego the sunscreen, limit my bare skin direct sun exposure, and enjoy the upcoming summer without the sticky, smelly mess of sunscreen.

Oh, and don't forget to eat some liver to round out your vitamin D intake!

The Miracle of Vitamin D
Sunlight and Melanoma: The Surprising Connection
Conscious Choice

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