Few people are aware that about half of all cancers occur in the skin….far more than any other part of the body. While most skin cancers are curable they can be disfiguring and expensive to treat. We have all heard that the primary risk of skin cancer is from sun exposure and sun damage. The other primary culprit to affect skin cancer and all cancers is aging. I want to briefly talk about both risk factors and how we can assist our skin.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are composed of two forms known as UVA and UVB, and both have been shown to have deleterious and potentially lethal affects on human skin. UVA rays make up 90% of the injurious wavelengths. They produce free radicals that interact with skin cells to damage their membranes, corrupt their DNA, and interfere with the skin’s DNA repair mechanism. The more energetic UVB rays directly damage DNA, causing abnormalities that can trigger the first steps in skin cancer. Ultraviolet light also destroys vital immune system cells that normally patrol the skin for abnormal and potentially cancerous cells. Finally UV light interferes with several processes that contribute to the regeneration and maintenance of skin’s normal suppleness and elasticity, hastening the course of visible aging.
Knowing all this it does make sense to apply a topical sunscreen daily but we must be informed of which ones are safe, what chemicals to use or not to use, and how we can internally assist our bodies with cellular repair.
First and foremost, when using sun screens avoid all chemicals. Although they are approved by the FDA, the chemicals frequently used even in natural sunscreens, including 4-methyl-benzylidencamphor, oxbenzone, PABA, and homosalates, are unsafe. They have been linked in numerous studies to hormonal disruption increasing the risk of breast cancer, uterine damage and infertility. I prefer sunscreens with microfine transparent zinc which is proven to block UVA and UVB, and its particles stay on the skin’s surface. Sofies’ Sol protect from Dr Fields’ Sacred skin line is an excellent choice providing SPF protection, no chemical toxicity and no nanoparticles.
Secondly for now until the research is provided, let’s avoid nanoparticles. The young science of nanotechnology creates nanoparticles which are defined as anything 100 nanometers or smaller. One nanometer measures one-billionth of a meter. Some particles are so small where 80,000 of them equal the width of a single strand of hair. The FDA is currently considering whether to regulate the use of nanoparticles in sunscreens. Currently they are unregulated and therefore there is no way of determining whether a sunscreen is using nanoparticles except for the trust in the company.
Thirdly, eat tomatoes and lots of foods high in antioxidants these help your skin repair sun damage. Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, appears to specifically provide skin protection. Glutathione is another strong antioxidant that seems to work on cellular repair and decrease the damage to the skin created by the sun and aging. New interesting research is coming out about an extract from the polypodium leucotomos fern which has powerful, skin targeted antioxidant effects. These nutrients all help minimize the damage from the sun and aging and hence decrease your risk of skin cancer.
1. Use Sofies’ Sol protect an all natural sunscreen with transparent zinc and no nanoparticles. Of course wear a hat and protect yourself from burns. Remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
2. Eat foods high in antioxidants such as tomatoes, or even dark chocolate and drink green tea to help your skin repair the damage from the sun and aging.
3. Consider other supplements such as glutathione 100-200mg a day or polypodium leucotomos 500-750mg a day to assist with the prevention of cellular damage that sun and aging creates.