SUNSCREENS: DO THEY REALLY WORK?

By Klaus Ferlow, HMH, HA

Summer is here, and with it, lots of sunshine providing Vitamin D will shine on us that our body does not produce. The elderly in British Columbia needs the sun after months of gray skies and cold weather. With the sunshine also comes the danger of overexposure which can create skin cancer. The worst is melanoma.

Several years ago, a medical doctor appeared on television announcing that she had melanoma cancer in the final stage and had only a few months to live. She warned people about the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. She spent most of her vacation on beaches with lots of sunshine in different countries and regretted it since as medical doctor, she should have known better. Her plea was for people to be careful with overexposure to the harsh UVA and UVB rays of the sun! A few weeks later, she died.

As a young boy in Germany, I was going for a swim in a lake, and since I was tired, I have fallen asleep. When I woke up, I had some red spots all over my belly. At home, my mother put a lot of buttermilk on my sunburn that cooled and soothed my skin. The next few days, my skin developed blisters, the peeling began, and all the burned skin came off. Luckily, I had only first degree burns. Otherwise, it would have created some serious skin problems, including melanoma. From what I’ve read, a severe sunburn in your youth could haunt you the later in life with grave consequences!

In olden days, melanoma used to be rare, and the risk in North Americans developing it was one in 1500. Nowadays, it’s one in 63 for males and one in 90 for females. However, in the last several years, due to global warming, the ultraviolet rays from the sun are becoming more intense, that in less than 15 minutes of direct sunshine, one could get sunburned. If you are on a boat in the ocean, river, or lake the water has a “mirror-effect, ” and you get even quicker sunburns!

The incidents of melanoma are rising rapidly, but healthy people in the prime of their lives would lie down on beaches for hours to get a nice tan, without realizing the damage the sun could inflict on their skin!

If you spot a dark brown mole on your skin, visit your doctor immediately for a diagnosis. If it turns out to be skin cancer, an early diagnosis could halt the spread of cancerous cells, and it could be life-saving!

The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 6,800 people were diagnosed with skin cancer last year.

How can you protect yourself from skin cancer such as a malignant tumor called melanoma?

Anyone who loves to bask in the sun should use sunscreen.

Manufacturers of sunscreens claim that combining several ingredients could help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the deeper part of the skin by the two types of ultraviolet radiations, UVA and UVB, that could damage the skin and increase one’s risk of skin cancer.

What are UVA and UVB?

They are part of the electric magnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer wave, and Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the shorter wave. These UV rays cause sunburns and skin damage that could result later on in skin cancer.

What is SPF?

Sun Protection Factor is a measure of sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Usually, it takes twenty minutes before your skin starts turning red. Manufacturers claim that by using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically, would prevent reddening 15 times longer, close to five hours protection against UVB.

Is this true?

Here is a list of chemicals you should avoid in some sunscreens: dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, and retinyl palmitate are most potent and harmful, same as para amino benzoic acid, octyl salicylate, padimate O, homosalate, sulisobenzone, menthyl anthranilate, trolamine salicylate, and octcyline.

Even a tan is a sign of DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer! UVB causes burning and UVA doesn’t cause burning but is still destructive. UV exposure damages DNA in skin cells, causing genetic mutations that could lead to making the cells cancerous. Try to avoid tanning beds which the World Health Organization calls “carcinogenic!” Before you buy a sunscreen, better read all the ingredients on the label or you are putting yourself in danger.

Zinc oxide is the most beneficial for effective UVA and UVB ray protection. Wear proper clothing with a hat and do not stay under the direct sunshine for longer than ten minutes. Avoid midday UV when rays are the strongest!

It is still controversial whether sunscreens with SPF  are preventing sunburns or not. There is also evidence that some commonly used ingredients have the potential to do damage in the body. For example, titanium dioxide produces free radicals which can damage DNA. Some people have allergic reactions to some of the chemicals in sunscreen. It would be wise for people not to expose themselves from too much sunlight. The fun of having a nice tan while you’re young, then having cancer later in life—is not worth a brass farthing.

Klaus Ferlow, HMH, HA, author, innovator, lecturer, writer, researcher and founder of Ferlow Botanicals, Vancouver, B.C., and NEEM RESEARCH, Mission, B.C., Canada, member of the Health Action Network Society, National Health Federation, United Plant Savers, International Herb Association, Neem Foundation and World Neem Organisation, Mumbai, India, co-author of the book “7stepsdentalhealth’, and author of the book “Neem – Nature’s Healing Gift to Humanity,” www.neemresearch.ca, neemresearch1@gmail.com, www.ferlowbotanicals.com

Copyright @2017, all rights reserved. The information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnose, cure, treatment or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care provider.