Health Advice Dawn Krueger-Sherin

I read a news story on the Internet about a man who was burned after putting on sun block. He sprayed the sun block all over his chest and back and then a minute later went to the grill. He then caught on fire. Luckily he had only second-degree burns. In the article they discussed how their was a warning that the product may be flammable. I thought to myself, “Why is it so many of us are putting flammable chemicals on our skin?”

Living in Arizona does increase our chances of skin cancer. It is pretty common to hear about someone you know that has struggled with some type of skin cancer or questionable mole. Skin cancer can be a killer. So it is important for us to have some type of protection. Although, what if what we are currently using to protect ourselves may be causing more harm than good?

Spraying chemicals on our skin and allowing it to bake in the sun may be causing more harm than good. Some reports talk about this being a cause of cancer more so than the sun itself. The good news is that there are more natural options out there that can help protect you from the harmful rays of the sun.

I am of the belief that a little sun is actually good for us. It gives us Vitamin D. It can uplift our mood. It has infrared rays that are healing to the body. The sun in moderation can actually be good for you. Going out in the hours before noon will have less impact than going out after noon. Taking a walk or just sitting outside for about 10-15 minutes can give you those natural benefits.

No matter what skin type you are, you will need to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. Those with lighter skin and moles may have a greater risk than those with a more darker pigment in their skin. So what each person needs will be different when it comes to protection.

For a light amount of protection you can use all natural coconut oil. This has a natural sun block factor of 8. You can also take it internally for sun protection. For more protection you can use zinc oxide. Many life guards have used this product for years. Although you probably can’t coat your entire body with it. It is generally used for spot treatments on the face. I personally use Kiss My Face products for sun block. They have an entire line of sun blocks that are creams, sprays and spot treatments. You can find these products online and in natural food stores. Then there is mineral sun block. Aveeno makes mineral sun block. It is 100 percent all natural and you can buy it at your local drug store.

There are also some natural nutritional ways to protect yourself from the sun. Start by taking Vitamin D. More and more studies are showing Americans to be deficient in this vitamin. The cause could be the use of sun blocks in itself. Although we get it from the sun we should be taking a supplement.

It is also a good idea to get tested once a year to see where your Vitamin D levels are. A recent study confirms that taking Vitamin D will increases sun tolerance and protection against sun damage.

Eat some vegetables high in lycopene like tomatoes. A recent study showed that this nutrient can protect us against sun damage. A few more natural ways to protect you from sun damage is to take Omega 3 fatty acids, drink green tea and eat some blueberries, which contain proanthocyanidins that can help prevent Uv damage.

Consider some alternative ways to protect yourself against the harmful rays of the sun. Most importantly, have fun this summer and spend some time out in our beautiful Arizona sun.

• Dawn Krueger-Sherin is an oriental medical practitioner in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, reach her at www.acupointehealing.com.

(1) comment

Mr Sun Care

Thank you for taking the time to write about the importance of vitamin D, an essential hormone for optimum health, and other aspects of sunscreen. I wanted to make several comments.

First, the various forms of skin cancer should not be lumped together. There are two distinctly different forms; melanoma, the deadly kind and non-melanoma, the non-deadly and the most diagnosed form. What needs to be clarified is that no sunscreen can help prevent melanoma. Saying it can does a disservice to the consumer. No study has every confirmed that it can. What is known through a published study, is that non-melanoma skin cancer can be prevented by using a sunscreen that combines natural zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sun filtering with natural antioxidants that soak into skin and prevent free radicals from damaging skin cells. As you already know, free radicals are unstable molecules that form on skin when its exposed to sunlight and are the root cause of sunburn, prematurely aged skin, and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Second, because of the games being played with natural sunscreen ingredients, the only way to know if a sunscreens ingredients are indeed 100% natural is to select one that has been independently certified by the Natural Products Association (NPA). The NPA's green certification program certifies a host of natural products and up to this point, only three all natural sunscreen brands have been certified as 100% Natural. MelanSol 100% Natural Sunscreen is one of them.

Third, as an African American, I am a huge proponent of using low SPF sunscreens or even a potent antioxidant moisturizer curing intentional short periods in the sun. People simply wear too much sunscreen because they fear dying from skin cancer. What if not getting enough sun were the cause of melanoma skin cancer? Something like an SPF 10 will do for short periods. An SPF 10 allows 10% of sunlight to reach your skin.

I had my vitamin D level checked last year and received the most shocking news of my life-that my vitamin D level was low! People with darker skin are more susceptible to low levels of vitamin D because darker skin naturally filters more sunlight. If I were to use a high SPF sunscreen, I would only be further inhibiting my body's ability to synthesize more Vitamin D. The solution I have found is for me to wear MelanSol Moisturizer which contains the antioxidants I need to prevent skin cell damage, while allowing the right amount of sun to reach my skin during the short periods I am exposed to it.

You are spot on when you said sunscreens contribute to skin cancer. The chemical active ingredients used in the majority of sunscreens on the market create unstable free radical molecules when they lose their ability to filter sunlight.

I will the first one to say that sunscreen is no "silver bullet" for preventing sun damaged skin. Common sense is your best ally for this. As you said, eating things that can boost your body's ability to counter free radical damage and wearing sunscreen that doesn't contribute to skin damage is a start.

Thank you for a great article. I look forward to reading more pieces like this from you in the future.

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