Warning: 5 Sun Safety Tips
How Much Sun is Safe?
July is UV awareness month so while getting some rays on your skin has some health benefits, sun damage and burning should be avoided at all costs.
The sun helps us produce vitamin D. Vitamin D, (actually a hormone), boosts a long list of diseases it protects against, including cancer. Click here to read more about the dangers of Vitamin D. But too much sun causes cancer. Is there a “sweet spot” where you can safely get sun and enjoy its benefits without increasing your risk of skin cancer?
Here at HealthNOW we promote a strong plant-based diet.
Did you know that if you eat greens or beets and then go out into the sun, you can enjoy a significant drop in blood pressure within 30 minutes of UV sun exposure?
Adequate sunlight throughout the day can ensure better melatonin production, your sleep hormone, at night. Melatonin is a cancer-protecting hormone.
Too much sun ages the skin visibly, accounting for wrinkles, loss of elasticity and thickening. Sun exposure, according to the experts, accounts for up to 90% of visible aging of the skin, making you look more than a decade older. The sun can also increase your risk of cataracts, but a brimmed hat and sunglasses help in that regard.
Of course the biggest concern is the risk of skin cancer, something that affects millions of Americans each year, plus thousands lose their lives. Melanoma, the most frightening cancer of the skin is deadly and its incidence is rising among young women. Tanning beds are blamed for this, and along with excess sun, accounts for about 75% of the melanoma cancers amongst young people. It’s so concerning that laws are being passed to prohibit tanning bed use to minors. Tanning beds emit dangerous UVA rays, cancer-causing but won’t cause vitamin D production.
For more in depth information on vitamin D, visit our recent blog here.
Healthy Skin and Sun Bathing Tips:
1. Apply the right sunscreen. Don’t rely only on the SPF number listed, look for the term “broad spectrum” or the UVA logo plus the word “high”. One of our favorite brands is La Roche-Posay Anthelios.
Go for SPF30 vs. SPF50. “30” filters 97% of UVB rays, while “50” filters 98% – no substantive difference. “50” can be so chalky you may not want to reapply it every two hours as you should. If you have very dark skin, SPF15 is likely sufficient.
2. Moderate your time in the sun. If you’re trying to get a nice glow it’s good to know there is a finite amount of time that cells require to produce maximum melanin, and thereby a tan or sun-kissed glow.
Typically this time frame is two to three hours, but less if you have fair skin. Staying in the sun beyond that time-frame is asking for UV damage.
3. Eat sun-friendly foods and nutrients. The antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes and other red and orange fruits and veggies, have a benefit of adding increased sun protection to your skin.
The antioxidant polyphenol, found in green tea, plus flavonoids found in dark chocolate (Yay!) are also skin protecting.
4. Avoid tanning beds.
5. Lastly, when in doubt, find some shade and apply some self-tanner. You will thank yourself later.
If you need assistance improving your health, we’re here for you. Contact us for a free consultation – 408.733.0400.
To your great health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Certified Practitioner Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”