Could sun block increase the risk of skin cancer?

  • Find out why using sun block might not be a good idea
  • Discover two common ingredients you have to avoid
  • Enjoy the sun but not too much

“It’s the sun I tell ye!”

Bank Holiday Monday saw folk pointing towards a strange yellow ball in the sky and wondering what it could be.

They began to shed their rain soaked garments and rediscovered feet that had long been hidden in wellington boots.

Raising their pale and sallow faces towards the warmth and feeling the pure pleasure of celestial rays…

…and about a millisecond later came the clashing of gongs by an irksome health watchdog warning of the dangers of sunburn and increased risk of cancers.

They really know how to spoil a good thing!

There followed headlines saying that there was no safe way to tan, and that we should all be slathered in sun block before venturing outside.

I hope you will all join me in raising a huge raspberry to this pathetic attempt by the sun cream manufacturing community to boost their sales this year, with a sanctimonious health watchdog not having a clue about what they are doing.

If you come across anyone who takes this guff literally please poke them with a pointed stick until they change their mind.

Bearing in mind that we have had months where the entire country was being blasted by 90mph winds, wave swells like tower blocks and enough rain to swamp those bits that weren’t already underwater; do they really expect us to listen to them?

When the summer sun does come out we should all bare as much of ourselves as we feel is respectful to neighbours and kin and take in the rays for twenty minutes or so…

… and we should keep on doing so every day that the sun deigns to smile on this rain soaked island.

Never have too much of a good thing

My maxim has always been that you should enjoy a little of what you fancy, but can you have too much of a good thing?

Although I think it is wise to accept that you can when it comes to sunshine.

On balance I think we can all agree that being careful is a good thing, but also that each of us has a very different approach and constitution.

Those of you with pale skin, or suffering from the after effects of long term steroid or chemotherapy treatment will have a very different tolerance of the sun than someone of darker complexion.

Actually knowing what is right for you is the key.

Just as it is in so much of our lives – I didn’t get to celebrate over half a century on this earth without understanding what my body can put up with.

Or indeed what my body craves and I must limit for it.

These are the really basic rules of life that we all follow surely.

Having HM Government or any other faceless institution plastering us all with the same advice about sun creams and becoming troglodytes is to treat us with a lack of respect.

Let us folk have the evidence, allow us to use our common sense and permit us to take the risks we deem reasonable – is that too much to ask?

If you want to use sun block, please do so as it will allow you to spend a little more time enjoying the sun, but make sure you are sure what is in the product you choose.

Could you really be risking your families health this summer?

This is a real challenge, and one that you ALL take, and not just for the kids.

Over the last few months I have been talking about the beneficial effects of a bit of sun for the body, but we all know that too much is a bad thing.

We aren’t the idiots our politicians would have us believe after all.

The joy of summer sun cannot be overstated, our bodies always seem to come alive with a touch of warmth and skin thrives with a touch of colour.

Modern advice though would have us walking around looking like Elizabeth I – slathered thick with white make up.

In the case of the Virgin Queen she used mercury powders which eventually poisoned her skin and killed her – guess what your commercial sun block might be just as bad for you!

This is true of even some of the biggest brands; last year The American Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted an analysis of 500 of the leading sunscreen products available and it found that it could ONLY recommend 39 of them.

Find that last bit a little shocking?

Well so you should, but chances are that you have heard very little about it; for many years now there has been a vocal and growing lobby who are saying that far from protecting us these chemicals are actually INCREASING our risk of skin cancer.

Despite a series of publicity seeking dermatologists saying that we should slap on the sunscreen as often as possible, the EWG scientists found evidence to the contrary.

It would seem that two chemical ingredients are to blame;

  • Vitamin A Derivatives: Bit of a tricky one to get the old head around this one…we all tend to think of the benefits of Vitamin A when applied as a cream enriching and nourishing our skin, which indeed it does…but only in its NATURAL form.

The commonly used version in sun block is a synthetic substitute called retinyl palmitate, which is described as a vitamin A derivative and is therefore assumed to have all of the same properties, which in the main it does.

The BIG difference though is that natural vitamin A protects your skin in sunlight whereas retinyl palmitate has photo-carcinogenic properties – meaning that when it is exposed to the sun is can speed up cancer formation.

  • Free Radicals: The darling of the TV cosmetic advert, free radicals are these mysterious things that prevent aging and stop us looking like bloodhounds as we age! However, the truth is slightly more disturbing, it now appears that many heavily-used chemical sunscreens may actually increase cancers by virtue of their free radical generating properties.

The chemicals added to sunscreens to block the UVA and UVB light that damages our skin are usually from a group known as Benzophenones.

A sun block common additive is from this group, oxybenzone, which has been shown to cross from the skin into the blood where it acts to disrupt enzyme production and damage cells increasing the risk of cancers.

So, as you can see we may not be getting quite what we bargained for, to say the least.

Enjoy the sun while we have it, but I know I don’t need to tell any Good Life Letter reader to not overdo it.