As concerned parents, many of us wonder which is worse: using sunscreen to block the sun, or letting our children play in the sun without it and potentially getting a sunburn. Many health officials claim that it’s very important to always use sunscreen to protect against cancer.
To better understand my view on this subject, let me clarify a few things.
Most Sunscreens Contain Ingredients Considered Toxic
Let me name just 2 of them:
- Oxybenzone – On a scale of 0-10 in EWG’s database of hazardous chemicals, oxybenzone scores an 8, making it in the “high hazard” zone. There is a high concern of it damaging cells and a moderate concern of it being a hormone disruptor. (Source) Healthy cells are important for our overall health in protecting against diseases and cancer, and hormone disruptors have the potential to contribute to cancer and attention disorders. (Source)
- Retinyl Palmitate – This ingredient in most sunscreens has a score of 9, making it in the high hazard zone as well. It has a high concern of cellular damage, and a study done by the FDA suggests that applying retinyl palmitate when in the sun can speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. (Source) So this ingredient basically spreads any existing cancer in the body when applied to the skin.
I encourage you to research all of the ingredients in your sunscreen so you know without a doubt what you are using on your child’s skin. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource.
The Sun Actually Can Protect You From Cancer
We all know that vitamin D is very important for good health. Nearly every cell in our bodies, from our organs to our brains to our bones, needs vitamin D. Our organs use vitamin D to repair damage done by cancer cells. (Source) What is the best source of vitamin D? The sun! Getting enough sun exposure is important to helping our bodies fight cancer and be as healthy as possible.
Keeping Your Children Safe in the Sun
Know When To Go Outside
In the past, I’ve heard that the highest risk of getting a sunburn was from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., so that was the time to avoid being directly in the sun. It turns out that it is during those hours that you actually want to be in the sun. The UVB rays of the sun are the longest during the mid-day hours, and UVB are the rays that contain the vitamin D. During the early morning and evenings the UVA rays are the longest and are the ones that have the potential to cause skin cancer. The goal is to be in the sun during mid-day without getting a burn so you can get the vitamin D your body needs to help fight cancer. One of the ways to do this is to gradually help your skin get used to the sun. Depending on your skin type, it’s suggested that you start out with 20 minutes of direct sunlight and work your way up to 2 hours of sun. (Source)
Use Natural Sunscreens
Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation that we have to be in the direct sun for longer periods of time. During these times I suggest using a natural sunscreen without the harmful chemicals such as Dr. Mercola’s Natural Sunscreen. Or, consider making one yourself.
Here are a few great sunscreen recipes to try:
- Natural Sunscreen at Hip Homeschool Moms
- Sunscreen Body Oil at Jill’s Home Remedies
- How To Make Non-Toxic Homemade Sunscreen at Mommypotamus
- How To Make Natural Homemade Sunscreen at Wellness Mama
Eat the Right Foods
Last, let me mention a few foods that encourage healthy skin and can keep your skin from burning in the sun. Foods that are high in Omega-3’s and antioxidants are the ideal choice.
Eat a lot of foods such as:
- Dark Chocolate
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Flax Seeds
What precautions do you take to keep your children safe in the sun?