Saturday, July 24, 2010

The truth about "Sunscream"

That's what my kids call it...they really think it's sunscream.  hee hee.  Now, rather than tell you what I know about how to keep our kids safe in the sun (besides the obvious long sleeves and pants and hats and staying in the basement playing wii unless it's raining), I want to ask YOU what you know about sunscreen.  Please send me your wisdom.  I'm confused by 'all natural' 'kid friendly' 'waterproof' 'no tears' and all that.  Does it have to be opaque with zinc and aluminum in it to work?  Does everything except organic stuff fill our kids pores with toxins?  And don't we want them to have a little Vitamin D?  Dermatologists are saying that even getting a tan is the body desperately defending itself from UV harm.  Aw, crap!  Seems to me I've heard there's more incidence of cancer because we are missing that sunshine vitamin.  I'm flustered.  Then again, I'm of the generation that slathered on baby oil and iodine...Help a girl out!


  1. Dude, I wish I could help. I just buy my 'scream' at the health food store with the assumption that THEY know what's going on. I was last sold a tube of chalky paste that lasted nearly 3 applications for about $25. (As a result we'll be eating KD through the long winter.) With talk of sunscreen actually causing skin cancer, I've been feeling ready to pay anything.

    Either the Natural Health industry is becoming more conniving and capitalistic than the pharmaceutical industry, or that's just what you have to pay for nontoxic 'scream'.

    Let's call out to our mom! I heard she has insight into some seaweed with natural UV protection qualities... Mama?

  2. I think it's a ripoff to buy the'natural' kind. Why don't people just use it a little bit and stay out of the sun at the hottest time of day.

  3. Here is a note that my friend Aaron Hayes wrote. I thought it was such great (and prudent!) info that I am reposting it here, to enter into this sunscreen dialogue...

    A sunny day public service.

    Since I tend to think that most actions widely covered in the media tend to be rooted in hype, misinformation, and a desire to make money, I was a good boy and used my Google.

    Two facts I find interesting:
    FACT 1. The most popular sunscreens contain high levels of oxybenzone.
    Oxybenzone (also listed as Eusolex 4360 and Escalol 567) has been shown to penetrate into the skin where it acts as a photosensitizer. This results in an increased production of free radicals under illumination. In otherwords, it acts as a photocarcinogen. While the sunscreen may have a high SPF rating, it will directly increase skin cancer risk if it contains oxybenzone. Or course there is endless propaganda debate, but the reasearch is pretty solid.
    Environmental Working Group which does lots of independent studies of pesticides and other chemicals in common items publishes sunscreen data here:

    FACT 2. There is increasing evidence that the greatest contributing factors to skin cancer are diet related, and genetic. It looks like the greatest risk is in Nordic blooded people who diet consists mainly of meat and dairy fats.

    Some interesting facts:
    According to the journal Archives of Dermatology, non-melanoma skin cancers among Americans on Medicare jumped about 77 percent between 1992 and 2006.
    (did the sun change?)

    Researchers in Australia (the highest skin cancer per capita) studied more than 1,000 adults over an 11-year period to see which factors were associated with skin cancer. Even when factors like sun exposure and skin color were taken into account, people who ate a lot of red or processed meat and high-fat dairy products had a greater risk of developing squamous cell cancer. This was especially true for people who had already had skin cancer. Those eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and having a lower fat diet had a 54 percent lower risk of developing squamous cell cancer. An additional Australian study consisted of 1,056 randomly selected people living in the sunny sub-tropical region. Researchers followed up with the individuals for 10 years and found that a high intake of green leafy vegetables cut the risk of reoccurring skin cancer by 55% in people with a history of skin cancer. However, those individuals with a high intake of full-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, full-fat yogurt, and cheese, had 2.5 times the increased risk of reoccurring skin cancer.

    Deramatology Researchers at Hope Hospital, Salford, Manchester studies the effect of oily fish in your diet and the prevention of skin cancer.
    The research consisted of a group of 42 healthy people being given a fish oil supplement that would be the equivalent of three portions of oily fish a week.
    After one month, they were less likely to burn and after three months, their resistance had risen to 33% less likely. A group of people who suffered from sun allergy doubled their defence after 6 months. These groups were measured against a third group who had been given olive oil which had no effect.

    Studies suggest that lignans, substances found in foods such as soy and flaxseed, may help fight cancer in general, including the spread of melanoma from one part of the body to another.

    Substances found in plants help protect your skin from sun-related damage:

    * Apigenin, a flavonoid found in vegetables and fruits, including broccoli, celery, onions, tomatoes, apples, cherries and grapes, and in tea and wine
    * Curcumin, found in the spice turmeric
    * Resveratrol, found in grape skins, red wine, and peanuts
    * Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples and onions

    Low serum beta-carotene levels has been linked to types of skin cancer.
    Regular intake of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and vitamin A have a positive effect.

  4. OK! Here's Mama's input....

    Actually I'm going to pass the buck to those who might know....

    Here's a link from Health Action Network. You can pick up all kinds of info on health issues from them. They published an article on sunscreen a couple of years ago.

    It suggests that seaweed might be a good option. I bought some little pouches of seaweed for sunscreen at a seaweed workshop. They do work! One workshop participant inadvertently gave us the evidence when she went out in the sun after applying it. She couldn't reach all of her back and came back to class with a burn everywhere she hadn't reached.

    I've tried it myself and it works well. Not poolside perfect as you do smell a bit like a sunbaked beach. Maybe that just adds to the experience though.

    The pouches are made by Vera Ronningen If you can't find a source for the pretty pouches and you are at the beach you'll find the brownish "poppers", bladderwrack, clinging to rocks at the tide line. Being out of the water at low tides they have the same concern with sunburn as we do and have come up with a solution. So take advantage of their skill and grab some off the rocks. Squeeze them open and rub yourself all over. You would need to reapply if you swim after that. Enjoy.

  5. Nice ideas, people! Thank you so much for posting your thoughts and info. Breakthesurface, we enjoyed the link and the perspective very much. Mom, I just might squeeze some seaweed "popper" juice onto myself when I next visit fact, one of us will post some of the article you sent...very interesting and not a total surprise. Look out, here comes some follow-up!


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