Happy and safe in the summer sun

sun

Overview

It’s summer time and most of us are heading outdoors to enjoy the sun. However, being exposed for long periods of time can heighten skin cancer and heat related illnesses. In regards to skin cancer, there are numerous best practices that can be applied before leaving the house, such as wearing sunglasses and non-toxic sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has investigated numerous brands of non-toxic sunscreen, which are mineral based and even more effective at protecting the skin from damage.

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has created a program called SunWise with evidence-supported research from the Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization. By following the best practices listed below we can educate ourselves how to be safe while outside.

However, we many of us are guilty of not using sunscreen on a daily basis and therefore prevention can also come from foods we can eat that protect our skin from damage, such as with healthy fats and antioxidants.

Sun safety best practices

1) Radiation from the sun can cause numerous long-term health concerns, such as, melanoma skin cancer, cataracts, and immune suppression as indicated by the EPA, 2015. Melanoma can be treated if spotted immediately and so the American Cancer Society offers instructions for self-examinations to learn about changes in moles.

2) Prevention also comes from awareness of heat-related illnesses. The Centers of Disease Control offer information about what signs to be aware of and immediate life saving actions so the situation does not exacerbate.

3) Check the UV Index before leaving a building. The scale adequately explains the index reading and the level of danger from ultraviolet, UV, rays which cause skin damage. A free UV index app is available for smartphones.

4) Each state varies in regards to skin cancer facts, therefore become familiar with skin cancer facts for your state.

Truth about Sunscreen     

Sunscreen can be a protective layer applied to exposed skin for extended use while in the sun. However, many sunscreens can be more toxic than the sun and so it is important to purchase from a reputable company, which uses mineral, based ingredients recommended by Environmental Working Group,

Leading researcher against sunscreen use, Elizabeth Plourde, PhD discusses her research on the biohazard waste of sunscreens with chemical ingredients and the continued rise in skin cancer despite their use. She states that actually infrared rays from the sun are stronger than UV rays and her research has proven that its what causes skin cancer.

Food as prevention

1) Eating healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil, protect our cells from inflammation and improve absorption of other vitamins, which decrease chronic diseases.

2) Increasing daily intake of fruits, vegetables and chocolates which are antioxidants protect against skin damage, enhance overall body health, and maintain skin health.

3) A glass of red wine a day keeps the stress away by decreasing inflammation and increasing anti-oxidants. Flavonoids in red grapes may reduce sun’s ability to destroy skin cells.

4) Although the sun offers vitamin D during the fall and winter in many states, this can be an issue. Therefore ensuring intake of Vitamin D in foods such as fish-liver oils, fatty fishes, mushrooms, egg yolks, and liver enhances bone health and anti-inflammatory.

Conclusion

            The sun has many benefits, yet due to the thinning of the ozone layer and increase in contamination, unfortunately it is becoming more harmful to enjoy the sun safely. Being proactive and constantly checking the UV index and avoiding the sun directly between 10am and 4pm as this is when the UV rays are the most harmful, can decrease chances of becoming sunburned which then increase melanoma. Prevention also begins by what we eat, such as healthy fats and antioxidants, as well as what we put on our skin. By teaching and practicing self-care by observing changes on our skin, we can stay safe in the sun and enjoy the warmth as well as healing capabilities the sun has to offer us.

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