We are being taught to fear the effects of the sun and think of it as dangerous. It is important to remember that the sun produces essential vitamin D in our bodies; the vitamin D you receive from food enrichment or supplementation is not quite the same as what we receive naturally from the sun. Furthermore, we are being told that exposure to the sun can cause melanoma, a form of cancer that kills tens of thousands of people each year.
The research is very inconclusive on this theory. Skin cancer and melanoma rates continue to rise dramatically despite (or perhaps because of?) increased sunscreen use. If sunscreen was effective in reducing our risk, we should see cancer rates declining as the use of sunscreen increases. If this is not the case, why use sunscreen? Why slather chemicals on your skin, the body’s largest organ, unless there is a really good reason?
Perhaps the most compelling research about the sun and cancer is surfacing in the field of nutrition. Back in 1993, an Australian study pointed out the possibility that omega-3 essential fatty acids may add protection against normal skin cells turning to cancerous cells’.
In 2001, a comprehensive review by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that omega-3 fats are protective against tumour-changing cells. Omega-6 fatty acids did not protect at all; in fact, they stopped the omega-3 fatty acids from doing their protective job.
Therefore, it has been concluded that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the diet is the most important factor in your risk for melanoma. Let me re-state this another way: if you eat too many foods containing omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids, you are increasing your risk for melanoma, and the amount of sunscreen you use is not the issue. Omega-3 foods: fish, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, walnut oil. Omega-6 foods: corn, soy, canola, sunflower and safflower oils.
Once again, it is about what you do from the inside-out for health and not outside-in. Sunscreen is an outside-in approach that should be used as a last resort. It is important to state here that you should never let your skin bum. Burning is extremely damaging. If you are at a family cottage, and when you go out for an afternoon on the boat, it is impossible to escape the sun. That is when we would use sunscreen.
There are many natural sunscreen products to try from health food stores that do not contain the chemicals found in most. It makes the most sense, however, to cover up with light cotton or Sunveil clothing when in the sun.
- Avoid the most intense sun rays of the day (10 am until 2 pm).
- Increase your exposure to the sun gradually at the beginning of the season.
- Finally, take a look at your diet. If you are eating a lot of the omega-6 rich foods make sure they are balanced with an appropriate amount of omega-3 rich foods.
Most people do not eat enough fish, so supplementing with a good fish oil high in DFLA and EPA is the way to go. If you put good things into your body, you generally will get good things out. Do not forget that cancer is a process that is caused by the immune system not being able to suppress or fight cells that are abnormal in our bodies.
The better your body functions, the better your immune system will be able to fight tumour-producing cells.
Your regular adjustments help your body work at its highest potential!