I know so many friends, especially ones with young kids, that have such a fear of sunlight. We need sun and it is my belief that children need to be in the sun, not coated with chemicals that are toxic and cause cancer! Yes sunscreen can cause cancer because we are lathering on chemicals that then cause oxidative damage to our DNA. The current medical thinking is that the most important reason we want to be in the sun is to increase our Vitamin D levels. Michael Holick MD a researcher at Boston University (an alma mata of mine) has a great presentation about Vitamin D and sunlight. (there are no controls, so you have to sit and watch the 30 minute presentation from start to end). Dr Holick suggests that we get at least 15-20 of sunlight exposed on our arms,face, legs and then put the sunscreen on. That is a good middle ground which he needed to take because he came under fire from the American Academy of Dermatologists who believe it is better to lather on the sunscreen.
Now there is new research showing that sunlight (and Vitamin D) protect against many cancers. I don’t believe that Vitamin D is the only beneficial substance our body creates from UV exposure and I’m sure others will be uncovered in decades to come. We just haven’t ‘discovered’ it yet because they are in such minute quantities and perhaps aren’t in the bloodstream. In the above mentioned epidemiological study the authors conclude, “…there is accumulating evidence for sunlight as a protective factor for several types of cancer. The same conclusion can be made concerning high vitamin D levels and the risk of colorectal cancer.”
So do make sure you get your sunlight, especially for infants, toddlers and teens who have a lot of growth happening. Give at least 20 minutes of exposure to UV rays unprotected. And if you want to use sunscreen use one with natural ingredients, not cheap ones from Walgreens. The benefits of sunlight exposure seem to far outweigh the risks if one is cautious, but you don’t have to be overly concerned each time your little one gets a bit of sunlight.
Yours In Health,
Maynard , MA