Health authorities today are obsessed with skin cancer and minimizing sun exposure.
On one hand, rates of skin cancer have increased dramatically over the past 2 decades, while Vitamin D deficiency (produced by your body using sunlight) is now also at record levels.
On the other though, cancer is never caused by any single factor (e.g. sun). It's always a combination of certain factors (e.g. weakening of the immune system, high levels of blood glucose/sugar, accumulation of free radicals & lack of sufficient anti-oxidants, and a trigger, such as excessive UV-A from sun).
But at the same time, numerous studies over the past decade have revealed that a variety of chemicals also disrupt our hormones, leading to an increase in risk for a range of disorders, including fertility, early menopause, cancer, etc).
These endocrine disruptors "mimic" our own hormones, confusing the body and creating a mess.
Some of the most common endocrine disruptors are in various plastics (always use glass when you can), cosmetics, and based on this latest research: sunscreen.
In this study, researchers discovered that almost half of the UV-blocking filters in sunscreens interfere with the function of sperm cells, rendering them unable to function properly. Furthermore, those chemicals also mimic the female hormone progesterone, potentially causing problems for women too.
Those same chemicals are also present in other products, such as makeup, moisturizers and lip balms.
The biggest concern in my mind is not just the infertility and hormone disruption problems: many parents slather sunscreen all over their children's bodies at a time when a child's body is highly susceptible to hormonal imbalances and their skin is highly permeable, absorbing anything on it into the bloodstream.
My recommendations as a general rule of thumb
- Don't shy away from exposing yourself to the sun (within reason): it's a natural environment for the human body and it needs it to produce Vitamin D and it allows your skin to tan, building protection against excessive radiation from the sun.
- Avoid excessive exposure (sitting in the sun at peak times for an hour or more is NOT advisable).
- Eat a diet that is anti-inflammatory: does not increase the level of inflammation, overburdening your immune system and increasing risk of diseases, including cancer.
- Eat a diet rich in anti-oxidants: your body's main resource for fixing damage caused by free radicals and excessive sun exposure.
- Use organic all-natural sun protection products when you must.
- Avoid plastics and commercial skin and cosmetic products.
- Avoid artificial tanning booths: they emit 12 TIMES the amount of Ultra-Violet A produced by the sun!
If you suffer from low levels of Vitamin D despite decent sun exposure and even supplements, read this: Fixing low Vitamin D levels without supplements.
If you want to read more about endocrine (hormonal) disruptors, I've written about them in the past in the last paragraph of this post.