2006-06-09 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Safe Use Of Sunscreens
By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. nancy gahles
DR. nancy gahles There are two types of sunscreens that we need to distinguish. The first is a chemical sunscreen that absorbs UV light. The second is a chemical sunscreen that blocks absorption of the UV light by reflecting it off the skin.

Chemical Sunscreen

The higher the SPF ( sun protection factor), the greater the number of chemicals. According to Contact Dermatology, 1997 (37:221-32), with more chemicals comes an increased risk of allergic reactions. And what about the fact that sunscreen chemicals are being absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin? What are the potential risks? While we do not have conclusive evidence of the long-term effects, we do have clinical and laboratory studies that point to a growing concern about the deleterious effects of these chemicals on our health. One concern is that some of the chemicals in sunscreens are estrogenic and may contribute to the growth of cancer cells. Toxicology, 2000(156:27-36), cited research in Japan, which confirmed the estrogenic potential of sunscreens. Swiss researchers cited the six most common UV-screening chemicals to be wary of. The ones you should be familiar with are : octyl methoxycinamate and octyl di-methyl (PABA).

Chemical Sunblocks

The buzz that mineral sunblocks are better for you is based on the fact that they are not absorbed but rather deflect the UV rays. One Australian study now suggests that particles of titanium dioxide can also be absorbed into the skin.

Caveat emptor

Buyer beware! Read the label. While there will be a mind boggling list of words from Chemistry class, read on. The only active ingredients that you want to see and use are:

1)Zinc oxide; 2)Titanium dioxide

These will be followed by a list of inactive ingredients which you can peruse to eliminate any known allergies to the oils included as a base.

Health From The Sun

Our bodies do need sunshine to promote good health. The exposure to the sun onto our skin stimulates the production of Vitamin D which is essential for absorption of Calcium and is lately reputed to prevent some forms of cancer. The full spectrum of rays from sunlight contains many healing properties. My advice is to use it wisely. Soak up the sun's vitality in the morning before 11AM and in the afternoon from 3PM to evening. Barring any medical conditions to the contrary, expose your skin to the sun for 10-15 minutes without sunscreen. Sunlight also enters through the eyes so leave your sunglasses off during this time.

When you plan on spending extended periods of time out of doors, choose a combination of protection. Use a safe sunscreen and reapply it after swimming. Wear protective clothing, especially on infants and those with a history of skin cancer. Some companies to check out that offer clothing with sun protection factors are: Sun Clothing, etc. at sunclothingetc.com; Solar Eclipse at solareclipse.com and Sun Precautions at sunprecautions.com.

Nutrition for the Sun

Diets rich in antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory nutrients can play a part in decreasing the effects of free radicals and even in reducing the risk of cancer. To keep it simple pack a beach lunch including almonds, walnuts, blueberries, apples grapes and cherries. Bring salads or crudits including broccoli, celery, tomatoes, endive, chick peas, beans or lentils of any kind with some cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and lemon. Make the all time beach favorite tuna and egg salad sandwiches with a bit of curry powder added. The yellow pigment curcumin is a powerful anti-oxidant. Wild salmon salad is also an excellent omega 3 rich choice. For beverages, make a pitcher of iced green tea with natural honey for sweetness. And, yes, red wine is good for you as it contains resveratol. Of course, moderation folks! And no driving home! Luckily, we live at the beach.

Best Sunscreens to Choose

My top picks are the ones that rank in order from safest and with ease of application. If it doesn't feel good to apply and wear on your skin, you won't use it. Titanium and zinc both have that white residue and can be thick on application. My number one choice is not white and goes on smoothly. I love it!

1.UV Natural sunscreen. SPF 30. Order it at admin@uvnaturalusa.com

2.Aubrey Organics, Natural Sun. SPF 25. Order it at www.aubrey-organics.com . Vitamin Shop often carries this brand.

3.Dr. Hauschka, Sunscreen Spray for Children and Sensitive Skin. SPF 20. Very water resistant. It does contain aluminum, however, but overall a good product.

For those wanting the look of a well tanned body without exposure to the sun, I suggest Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Translucent Bronze Concentrate; Bare Escentuals i.d. Bare Minerals Blush; Aveda Sun Source. These are available in most department stores.

I always think that the truest, most brilliant light is the one that shines from a heart of Love. It contains no chemicals and it won't wash off in the shower. There are risks involved with this as well. You need to keep the light glowing from an open heart even on the darkest day. The rewards, however, are immeasurable and follow you into eternity.

Love and Light to all!

May The Blessings Be!

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