More than two million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer annually. And even though more and more people use sunscreen, the incidence of skin cancer continues to climb worldwide.1
I love the saying “At the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.” –Shanti
But to make that happen we need to expose ourselves to the sun. I hear all over the media how we need to protect ourselves from the sun and how bad it is for us. And, to a certain degree, that is correct. Too much exposure can cause harmful effects like burns and over an extended period of over-exposure, it may be the cause of skin cancer. But I feel a more important question that should be addressed is: what happens when we deny ourselves the correct amount of exposure?
Health Benefits of Sunshine
When we avoid the sun or block vitamin D production by over-applying sunscreen, your risk for vitamin D deficiency skyrockets. This deficiency actually increases your odds of developing 16 different types of cancers, including melanoma, and a multitude of other diseases.2
I hope that everyone has been taking advantage of the warm weather moving in, because sunshine’s benefits extend well beyond vitamin D production. Here are 10 of the sun’s healing benefits:
Find more explanation of the above benefits here.
The Scary Side-Effects of Sunscreen
I am not suggesting you avoid pre-cautions when it comes to sun exposure, rather, be conscious of how you protect yourself. Many sunscreens are filled with harmful chemicals. Pregnant women should be especially picky about what they put on their skin. The harmful chemicals penetrate the skin and get into the bloodstream, which goes right to baby. Unborn babies need their mother’s sun exposure, as well.
So what exactly is in some of the top-selling sunscreen brands? Neutrogena, Rite Aid, Walgreens “Well” brand, “Up and Up” from Target and Coppertone are among those that made the most toxic list and likely contain the following red-flag ingredients. If you see them listed on the label of your sunscreen, throw it away and choose another:
Parabens: Synthetic preservatives known to interfere with hormone production and release.
Phthalates: Another synthetic preservative that’s carcinogenic and linked to reproductive effects (decreased sperm counts, early breast development, and birth defects) and liver and kidney damage.
Synthetic musks: These are linked to hormone disruption and are thought to persist and accumulate in breast milk, body fat, umbilical cord blood and the environment.
So now what? Begin exposing your skin to the sun in early spring. Wear hats on the long days or even those swimwear shirts, limit your exposure time and look for safer sunscreens. You can find even more information from the articles below, including suggestions for safer sunscreens and DIY recipes.
Wishing everyone a bright and sunny summer! May you all go to bed with dirty feet, messy hair and a sparkle in your eye.
Author: Angela McElroy is a former naturopathic practitioner at Continuum Healing. She has a special interest in children’s health and works to support, encourage, balance and bring healing to children and families struggling with ADHD, anger, anxiety and other emotional imbalances through her newly formed animal facilitated naturopathy and counseling clinic, Dorr to Eden.