Is Sunscreen Necessary?

This time of year I often I get asked what I use for sunscreen. When I tell patients that I don’t believe it's necessary, they look at me like I'm crazy.  Of course, the next obvious question is what about all the skin cancer and melanomas in the news.

I have to tread lightly on this subject because skin cancers are, in fact, on the rise. The question I have always had about this increase in the incident of skin cancer is why it has increased so much over the last 30+ years?

The sun isn’t putting out any more radiation, and there isn’t any proof that we aren’t getting any more radiation here on Earths surface. So why then the dramatic increase in skin cancers? Well, honestly it is most likely the massive increase in dietary sugars and decreases in fat over the past 35 years.

The logic is pretty simple when you increase sugar consumption you increase the number of chemicals in your body called advanced glycation end products (or, appropriately, AGEs for short). These AGE’s are likely to damage other proteins near them and have a high affinity for elastin and collagen, which give skin and the rest of your connective tissue its shape and form. This damage is part of what gives us the weathered look of age.

The damage the AGE’s weakens the skin and opens us up to potential damage from the sun. So since the late 70’s, we have significantly increased the amount of sugar in our diet, namely because we have decreased the amount of fat in our diet, and we had to make our processed foods taste better! If you want more on all of this you should go see the movie Fed Up, it is an excellent documentary about the sugar and processed food industry.

The sad part of this flip of dietary fat and sugar is that the sugar is damaging to the cells, and the fat is protective to the cells. In fact, every cell wall you have is made of fat. So if you are eating unhealthy unsaturated fake fats in processed food, your cell walls will be made of that and be unable to deal with the stress from the AGE’s and the sun.

Allowing the radiation to do damage to your DNA (if the sugar hasn’t already). So the main reason I don’t do traditional sunscreens is that I don’t have to because I do a decent job of eating healthy fats and limiting my sugar intake.

However, as much as I don't believe sunscreen is necessary (as long as you're not in the sun all day), here are a few steps that you should take to protect yourself from the sun:

Step 1. Drink lots and lots of water The more your hydrated, the harder it will be to burn. Water is an excellent storage and transducer of energy (radiation)

Step 2. Eat fat Healthy Omega 3’s and saturated fats and oils from coconut, avocado, and olive.

Step 3. Reduce Sugar Reduce, in fact, just cut it out of your diet altogether you will probably feel better!

Step 4. Use the oils you eat on your skin. Those fats can be protective both internally and externally. Use them as a lotion or as your sunscreen.

Step 5. Ease into your sun time Like working out you need to do a short burst of sun time to “train” your skin to not burn. If you manage to do all of these things, you will be less likely to burn and potentially damage your skin.

In a future post, I’ll get more into the dangers of Sunscreen and SPF but for now, just try the above steps so you can enjoy the summer pool time!

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