There's a lot of fear and misunderstanding when it comes to being out in the sun. Confused and afraid of skin cancer, we are quick to lather on sunscreen chemicals to block out the sun's rays. This is done without hesitation, without understanding what these chemicals are or how they distort the body's natural hormone levels. Stuck in this fearful mindset, it's easy to neglect the importance of daily sunlight exposure for prevention of all disease. To maintain a healthy immune system, we should embrace 15-30 minutes of sun exposure each day, instead of avoiding it. Studies show that 77 percent of cancers are prevented when one produces adequate vitamin D from the sun. When we rush to block out this important component in our life, we set our bodies up to welcome disease.
Key anti-oxidants help protect the body from the inside out
Sunburn is NOT proof that the sun is a dangerous, cancerous vessel. Of course, one must know their limits and seek shade when necessary; however, sunburn may indicate an imbalance, a disconnect between humans and nature. Instead of fearing sunburn, one should be finding ways to protect their body from the inside out by consuming and assimilating greater quantities of antioxidants. Most people are disconnected from the science of nutrition found in living foods. Most people are not eating and absorbing the phyto-nutrients that help with internal sunlight regulation, oxidative stress, and vitamin D production.
Key antioxidants are missing from the standard diet, such as selenium, carotenoids, lignans, lutein, lycopene, and all sorts of polyphenols/flavanoids. Powerful antioxidants like astaxanthin help protect the skin from the inside out, naturally preventing UV radiation damage. Astaxanthin is a phytonutrient synthesized by a species of micro-algae called Haematococcus. It has a deep red hue and can be seen in salmon because they feed on the fish that thrive on the micro-algae.
Sunscreen chemicals wreak havoc on hormones
Sunscreen chemicals are like a temporary shield that doesn't get to the root of the sunburn problem. These chemicals are not always effective either. There's no scientific proof that these chemicals protect the skin from damage or cancer. In many cases, sunscreen chemicals pose more risks than rewards (especially since they are interfering with the body's delicate network of hormones).
One common sunscreen chemical called oxybenzone disrupts hormones and is linked to endometriosis in females and low sperm count in males. The Environmental Working Group reviewed a large number of commercial sunscreens and found out that half of them used the hormone-disrupting oxybenzone as an active ingredient in their formula.
When oxybenzone penetrates the skin, it acts like estrogen in the body. This may trigger allergic skin reactions and can negatively affect the reproductive systems of both males and females. For females, this disruption can cause tissue that normally lines the inside of their uterus - the endometrium - to grow outside their uterus. This causes severe abdominal pain and may lead to infertility. Furthermore, oxybenzone has a 1 to 9 percent skin penetration rate in lab studies. It's detected in most Americans' blood and can even make its way into a mother's breast milk.
Other sunscreen chemicals like octinoxate, (octylmethoxycinnamate) exhibit hormone-like activity and can alter the function of the reproductive system, thyroid and even behavior in animal studies.
Another common ingredient, homosalate, can disrupt estrogen, androgen and progesterone levels. Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals can change the very nature of a man or a woman at the hormone level.
Working with nature to protect the skin is a better approach
Instead of disrupting natural hormone levels with sunblock chemicals, it's best to reconnect with nature and work with natural sun protective plant extracts and minerals that allow the skin to replenish and heal. Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, wheat germ oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil all have documented sun protection factor. Carrot seed and red raspberry seed essential oils have significantly high SPF. Zinc oxide is a mineral sunscreen that can reflect both UVA and UVB rays.
The difference between natural substances and synthetics is that healthy plant oils aren't disrupting the body's natural hormones. In this way, plant oils are allowing fo more efficient vitamin D production, because vitamin D is essentially a hormone. A healthier diet, full of antioxidants allows the body to internally regulate the sun's energy. While it's important to know one's limitations and find shade intuitively, no one should have to fear the sun. Be wary of the chemicals in day-to-day use, not the sun.