Ahhh, summer is here! Everyone is heading outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine! Whether you are heading to the beach or just the back yard it’s important to think about protecting your skin from sunburn. Do you slather up with protection because you have been warned of the dangers of skin cancers? Do you ever wonder if all this sunscreen is preventing skin cancer? I sure do! Has melanoma gone down with this knowledge and early detection? Good question, right? I found an interesting blog by Dr. John Cannell, MD, the founder of the Vitamin D Council, doesn’t think so. He posted on his blog in May the following statement.
“The skin cancer we all fear the most is malignant melanoma, which kills about 8,000 Americans a year. However, the incidence of stage one (less than 1 mm in size without spreading) malignant melanoma has tripled over the past forty years in spite of the fact that more and more people now avoid the sun and use sunblock. Why is melanoma increasing if so many people are now taking sun precautions?
While getting frequent severe sunburns, especially as a child, clearly increases the risk of malignant melanoma, few people know that frequent sun exposure, without burning, actually decreases the melanoma risk.”
He also goes on to say the indoor workers have higher levels of skin cancer than those that work outdoors. This is interesting because people who work indoors usually have low blood levels of Vitamin D.
So am I saying that you should avoid sunscreen to get the vitamin D you need? Well, yes and no! You should use sunscreen as you build up time in the sun. You do not want a sunburn, but you should try to gradually expose yourself to sun without sunscreen at least 20 minutes a day. This will help build up your Vitamin D3, which actually protects you against skin cancer. Most studies have found that most of us are not getting enough vitamin D3 regardless of the time we spend in the sun. Therefore it is important to take a good vitamin D3 supplement daily. I recommend 5000 i.u. once a day for most people.
Make sure the sunscreen you use does not contain vitamin A or any of its derivatives. There were several studies over ten years ago showing vitamin A may increase the speed at which malignant cells develop.
So bottom line is wear a good sunscreen, but not all the time, take your vitamin D3, try not to get sunburned by slowly increasing your sun exposure and have fun!