As sunny weather draws near, many people can’t leave their homes without sunscreen. After all, it promises protection from the harmful rays of the sun, and widely regarded as the best way to prevent skin cancer.
How much of this information is factual and how much is fallacy? Here are some myths about the use of sunscreen:
Myth #1: Sunscreen Lotions are Your Best Protection Against Skin Cancer.
These supposed topical wonders, which sell like hotcakes in drug stores and beauty shops, capitalize on the fear of consumers against degeneration—that if you don’t use sunscreen lotions, you might as well bake yourself to death under the sun.
Sunscreen lotions are host to a cocktail of chemicals that promote the development of melanoma. Benzophenones (dixoybenzone and oxybenzone), salicylates and propylene glycol are just some of the ingredients tested to be carcinogenic. Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide is believed to be less toxic than the other ingredients.
Myth #2: People Who Spend More Time Outdoors are at a Bigger Risk of Skin Cancer.
It goes without saying that those who spend more time under the sun are more exposed to the rays of the sun. This doesn’t mean, however, that people who shun sunlight are safe from skin cancer.
Studies show that indoor workers are more prone to develop melanoma than outdoor workers. As people spend more time inside buildings with glass windows that block the UV rays of the sun, they become deficient in vitamin D3.
This component is derived from UVB rays and processed by the body to repair damage. Without it, people become more susceptible to cancer and other health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity.
Myth #3: All Sunscreen Lotions Protect You from Harmful UVA and UVB Rays.
Many sunscreen products include broad-spectrum protection that shield the skin against UVA and UVB rays, the two primary UV rays we get from the sun. Although both cause skin darkening, UVA rays are more penetrating and as such, the main cause for skin aging and cancer.
Sunscreen lotions that prevent only the UVB rays from seeping in the skin are in fact doing more damage than good—they inhibit the body from getting the much-needed vitamin D while allowing the diffusion of the harmful UVA rays through the body.
Myth #4: Your Skin Won’t Burn When you Use Sunscreen.
Even if you slather on a whole bottle of sunscreen, it’s still possible to fry under the sun. Topical and oral medications, like those used for the treatment of urinary tract infections, break down into small particles and offset the efficiency of sunscreens. The result is burned, pigmented, and rash-prone skin. It’s best to ask your doctor about the possible implications of drugs on the skin, especially if you’re expecting to spend a significant time outdoors.
Myth #5: The Higher SPF, the More Protection.
Regardless of the SPF level, there’s no assurance that you’ll get the right amount of protection. Sunscreen lotions should be applied every two hours and at least 30 minutes before heading outdoors.
The sun is both the number one source for Vitamin D and skin cancer. Just make sure to avoid over-exposure during its peak, which in the US, is from10AM to 3PM. Diets rich in antioxidants will also help the body defend itself against its harmful rays.
Whether the promotion of sunscreen is purely a marketing hype or something we all need to heed for our health’s sake, we must exercise caution and common sense.
Guest Post by: Pasha Lubeck is a single mom to two handsome boys and a part-time designer for Kichler Lighting. They live in sunny California with their fluffy cat named Midnight.
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