For all its benefits, protection from the sun is key to good health.
The sun is very much the source of life on planet Earth. Without the sun, plants would not grow, which means animals would have nothing to eat, leaving we humans very hungry, indeed. Plus, it would be miserably cold. Certainly, we have the sun to thank for a lot.
Even for humans, specifically, sunlight brings with it numerous benefits. When sunlight comes into contact without skin, our bodies make vitamin D––an important nutrient for cancer prevention, bone health, and overall health.
Time in the sun is also known to boost mood––when sunlight disappears, rates of depression and seasonal affective disorder are known to go up. Sometimes, time in the sunshine is just what the doctor ordered.
On the whole, sunlight is a good thing. There can be, however, too much of a good thing.
Too much time in the sun can leave one with a miserable sunburn, regardless of how fair or dark your skin is. This is a miserable experience for anyone, but the sun’s negative effects are not relegated to the short term. Over years, damage to our skin from the sun can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and deadly forms of skin cancer. (It is worth noting that skin cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide––not something to take lightly.) The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from any damage the sun might inflict as best you can.
Many of those more naturally-minded balk at the idea of sunscreen, and for good reason; sunscreen often contains harsh and dangerous chemicals, many of them thought to promote cancer formation. Using this, exclusively, as a means to prevent cancer seems somewhat counterintuitive, to say the least.
Certainly, there is more we can do. There are some strategies that should become habits when it comes to taking steps to prevent skin damage from the sun.
The Germ That Causes Cancer
The Germ That Causes Cancer is a quick read that introduces the concept of fungus and it’s link to cancer, confessions of a former chemotherapy sales representative, and the perspective of a physician who answers the question, “What would I do if I had cancer?”
Keep The Time of Day In Mind; Watch The UV Rays
The sun’s rays are most intense in the middle of the day. Try spending time outside earlier in the day or in the evenings. Many weather apps allow you to check the UV intensity via your phone. Be mindful of what the UV ray levels are before venturing out.
Use Physical Sunblock
One of the easiest and healthiest ways to prevent skin damage from the sun is through physical sunblock. This can be a wide-brimmed hat, a long sleeve, airy shirt, sunglasses, or an umbrella––anything that prevents the sun’s rays from directly touching your skin. There is quite a bit of swimwear now that is made with this in mind. Particularly if you are out in the middle of the day, this can be an important strategy for blocking the sun.
Do Not Skip The Sunscreen
Many kinds of sunscreen are loaded with toxic chemicals, but there are many, naturally-minded purveyors of sunscreen that are safe and effective, many formulated by dermatologists. Look for more natural varieties; if you spend a lot of time in the sun, sunscreen really is an important, protective tool not just for cancer prevention, but for healthy skin at all ages.
Take It Easy On the Moisturizers
Tanning lotions and other moisturizers can make skin more vulnerable to damaging UV rays. Some people do this intentionally, so that the sun may tan their skin, but this is not likely the wisest idea for long-term skin health.
Eat Healthy Fats
Healthy fats, like fish oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. can provide benefits for the skin that protect against sun damage and repair existing damage.
If You See Something Strange, See a Dermatologist
Odd looking formations on your skin are nothing to sleep on. If you see something strange, see a doctor as soon as possible. Especially if you spend time in the sun regularly, seeing a dermatologist regularly is an important habit.