There has been a lot confusion related to how much sun we should be getting, if we should use sunscreen and if so, which ones?

Most of us have heard about UVB rays.  The majority of the products on the market the past 30+ years focussed on protecting against these rays.  More recently the damage caused by UVA is more understood.  More products are coming out with protection against UVA/UVB rays, but it can be misleading.  It only protects somewhat, not totally and therefore can give a false sense of protection.

So what is Ultraviolet Radiation?

UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun.  Wavelengths (shorter than visible light, making it invisible to the naked eye) are known as UVA, UVB and UVC.   The ozone layer absorbs the UVC and therefore it does not reach earth.  UVA and UVB, however does penetrate the atmosphere contributing to premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), and skin cancers. They also suppress the immune system, reducing your ability to fight off these and other maladies.

When our skins cellular DNA is overexposed to UV radiation it can produce genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer.

We are all exposed to large amounts of UVA during our lifetimes.  UVA actually penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB and has long been blamed for premature aging and wrinkles.  UVA is dangerous all day long, and can pass through clouds and glass.  Newer studies have revealed that UVA damages skin cells called keratinocytes in the base layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur.  UVA is also responsible as the more dominate tanning ray.  A tan is actually damage to the skins DNA; the skin will darken as an attempt to prevent further damage.

Tanning booths are not safer.  They primarily emit UVA doses as much as 12x that of the sun.  Not surprising then that people who use tanning beds are in fact at a higher risk of developing certain types of skin cancers.  This risk increases if youth are exposed to tanning beds, up to 75% for melanoma.

UVB affects the top layers of the skin called the epidermis, and is responsible for sunburns.  UVB rays are the most intense during 10am and 4pm.  It is estimated that 70% of our exposure to UVB occurs in the summer months.  UVB does not penetrate glass.

9 Surprising Facts About Sunscreen *

  1. FDA’s sunscreen rules have changed but products haven’t improved
  2. There’s no proof that sunscreens prevent most skin cancer.
  3. Don’t be fooled by high SPF
  4. The common sunscreen additive vitamin A may speed development of skin cancer.
  5. European consumers can get better sunscreens
  6. Sunscreen does not protect skin from all types of sun damage.
  7. Some sunscreen ingredients disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies.
  8. Mineral sunscreens contain nano-particles.
  9. If you avoid sun, check your vitamin D levels.

* excerpt from online article:

Not all sunscreens are created equal and therefore doing your research is recommended.  Sometimes prolonged sun exposure is unpreventable and you still need to protect your skin.  Asking your chiropractor advice on sunscreens would be beneficial as they themselves would practice healthy lifestyle choices.

Key ingredients to avoid:  Oxybenzone, nanoscale zinc, titanium oxides and retinal palmitate:-

  • limit sun exposure (especially between 10am-4pm)
  • avoid burns
  • stay clear of tanning beds
  • use protective clothing, including hats and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • use sunscreen when out for prolonged periods of time (UVA/UVB protection)
  • every month examine your skin for changes
  • have a professional skin exam annually

Do you have a favourite sunscreen that you feel you can recommend??