Gone are the days of slathering on oil and laying in the sun for that golden summer glow. These days, everyone is well aware of the dangers of sun exposure and its connection to skin cancer.
Some doctors are now telling their fair-skinned patients they should never be in full sun for more than 20 minutes without wearing sunscreen because it could lead to melanoma.
But could all this emphasis on sun protection leave us exposed to a different set of serious medical problems?
Consider these 4 reasons why you should consider skipping your sunscreen.
1. Many sunscreens on the market are filled with toxic ingredients such as oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, which may potentially cause problems like hormone disruption or, ironically, skin cancer. Even the “healthy” sunblocks out there which work by physically reflecting light using mineral nanoparticles such as zinc oxide have been known to absorb into skin and show up in the bloodstream.
2. By blocking all sun rays, you are stopping your body from producing vitamin D. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays on your skin is the most natural, effective way to get vitamin D.
3. Vitamin D deficiency is a rising concern in the US especially with increased use of sunscreen in recent years. Vitamin D deficiency has of late been connected to a surprising number of common diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to dementia.
4. You may think you can get vitamin D from food and/or supplements, but the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D such as egg yolk, certain fish and beef liver only have small amounts and are high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Supplementation in the winter may be necessary for some as vitamin D levels are depleted by lack of sun. However supplements are not as effective and may not be properly absorbed.
This does not mean we are doomed to choose between skin cancer or vitamin D deficiency. We can educate ourselves and make responsible choices about when and how long to expose our skin to the sun.
The key is not to stay out long enough to turn pink or burn. Clothing, hats, sunshades/umbrellas and staying in the shade are also effective at blocking the harmful UVA rays that can cause skin cancer.
So this summer, consider seeking alternative sun protection when necessary and give sunshine a second chance.