(Had to repost as blog suddenly vanished before I could click on post blog entry):
Recently I was asked to post a very moving video about the risk of skin cancer in young people. It turns out that skin cancer is a young person's disease. This video talks to the 16-year-old me, warning to use sun screen (and hats), stay away from tanning booths, and a reminder: Just one bad sun burn before age 18 can double the risk of skin cancer.
Here is that powerful video:
After posting that video, I went out for a long walk at noon on a very hot, sunny day. I didn't wear sun screens, a hat, or bring water. It really hit me that I had to change my ways, not just slather on the sun screen in Hawaii, Arizona, or at the beach.
The truth is that I just dislike putting on sunscreen and am allergic to many chemicals. It turns out that most sunscreens include Vitamin A, which could be a cancer causer, Oxybenzene which could be a hormone disrupter, and zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Kris Carr has a great article about sun screens, including information on the difference between SPF and UVA:
This is just a very brief excerpt of that informative blog:
For starters, here are a few red flags to look out for when scanning sunscreen labels:
• Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or “retinol”): Linked to increased cancer cell growth.
• Oxybenzone: Hormone disrupter—experts caution against using it on children.
• Powder or spray mineral-based sunscreens (usually on ingredient label as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide): These ingredients are typically safe in lotion form, but can cause internal damage if inhaled.
The Environmental Working Group has excellent information on safe sunscreens, beauty products, cleaning products, and much more:
And here how the Vitamin A article starts:
"A study by U.S. government scientists suggests that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight (NTP 2012)."
Luckily there are some good organic products out there, and I plan to start trying them out. One reason I wanted to post this article is because a very close, older relative in her 70s, caught skin cancer just before it entered the orbit of her eye. She is very allergic to chemicals and doesn't like sun screen, doesn't wear sun glasses, a hat, etc.
I'm so grateful it was caught in time, and I am so grateful for others who have had it caught in time. The survival rate is very high for those who catch it early, but it is apparently only 10 percent for those who catch skin cancer much later. It can even appear in the eye, on the tongue, on the palms of hands and on the soles of feet. And yes, even the scalp.
My plan is to find a good sun screen, find a really fun hat to wear, get more long-sleeved cotton shirts like my grandmother was smart enough to wear, and take other precautions so that I can have fun in the sun but not the problems. I have very fair skin and burn quickly. While I know I have to immediately put on sun screen in Hawaii, Arizona, or at a beach, I tend not to want to slather on the chemicals when I go out for a walk, for instance. I'll learn to change that!
Note: Many people believe that consuming more antioxidant foods makes a difference, and many people cover up in clothing, hat, sunglasses, beach umbrellas, sun tents, etc. rather than wear sun screen. Also sunscreen can be bad news for coral reefs and other eco environments. The sun-protective shirts for swimming and snorkeling are preferred and now very popular at many beach destinations.
The Washington Post just came out with an article on this issue.