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This sunscreen blog will help you stay up to date on news about sunscreen, the dangers and benefits of sunlight and related health matters...

One thing to do everyday to keep looking young

There's a simple message being given out there by all ages, sexes and ordinary or famous alike:

Put sunscreen on!

Various polls run by magazines and online blogs reveal that only around 30% of people will wear a sunscreen daily. Whether or not you are office bound or work in the outdoors, you are better off wearing sunscreen. Without being outdoors every day, most people are exposed to about 14 hours of casual UV exposure every week.

It helps when some of the revered beauties of the screen advocate wearing sunscreen as their key beauty secret. Some of these include:

Katie Holmes "I learned a long time ago how important wearing sunscreen is."

Julianne Moore -"I say this to every young person I know: Stay out of the sun! I have very fair skin and it would have been super-damaged."

Kristin Davis - "I've done a lot of damage to my skin in the past, which makes me appreciate a great sunscreen now."

Judy Reyes - "Always wear sunscreen, no matter how dark your skin is and how well it takes the sun."

Hayden Panettiere - "I make sure that I put sunscreen on under my makeup, or just by itself, no matter where I am going."

And my favourite Nicole Kidman - "It is the worst thing in terms of ageing, so I wear a lot of sunscreen, and I never go in the sun."

My advice is to check your skin type and make sure you choose the right sunscreen to wear for every occasion, every day.

Continue reading "One thing to do everyday to keep looking young"

UV damage from light bulbs?

The UV we are exposed to from most light bulbs is a very low emission, enabling every day SPF15 protection to be quite adequate for all average skin types.

However, it’s also vital to note that your sunscreen contains high UVA protection. Many face moisturisers today provide UV protection, but only use a chemical sunscreen ingredient and so don’t protect from UVA, only UVB.

There are some people, however, who are extremely sensitive to any UV light and require extra diligence with their protection. This is an interesting excerpt specifically about fluorescent lights: “For most fluorescent light, the amount of UV radiation produced is minimal, much less than the radiation you are exposed to after only a short time under the sun.

However, for people who suffer from sensitive skin or skin conditions that are made worse by natural light, the brighter versions of fluorescent lights can be highly irritating, since these lights mimic sunlight and include a small amount of escaping UV light as well."

The typical fluorescent bulb applications do not require complete nullification of ultraviolet light. However, in some medical or scientific situations, no UV light can be allowed. In these cases, fluorescent lights can be fitted with a sleeve or case that absorbs any escaping UV wavelengths and neutralises them completely while still providing light.

Another way to protect ourselves from the UV effects of fluorescent lights is to replace them with incandescent bulbs. However, this is proving a problem these days as the world shifts to energy saving options and we're back to square one.

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Daily sunscreen use reduces melanoma risk by half

An Australian study conducted over more than a decade, has provided some really interesting results showing that "adults who use sunscreen daily can drastically reduce their risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer". Although perhaps there are many areas where the study could have been improved, or criticised, the results I liked especially are that by wearing a sunscreen every day you can:

  • reduce the overall risk of melanoma
  • reduce the invasive properties of the melanoma
  • reduce the size of the melanoma

Applying a broad spectrum sunscreen to the head, neck, arms, and hands every day, they reduced melanoma incidence by half in their 800 study participants. The other 800 - the half wearing sunscreen as they would normally - came away with some results that I would hope woke them up to the reality of the melanoma risks faced without sunscreen usage? In this instance, it would be interesting to know just what their 'normal sunscreen usage' was and whether or not they used a broad spectrum sunscreen or not.

An area not covered is that of the non-melanoma skin cancers - Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Basel Cell Carcinoma, Actinic Keratosis, etc. Although the indirect implication may be that they would benefit too, it would have been extra informative to have known the reduction of risk with these too.

Plus there is the relatively 'ordinary' aspect of anti-ageing. Wearing a protective sunscreen every day helps enormously to combat this unwanted element of our busy lives and if there are added ingredients that boost the skin's ability to deal with potential DNA damage, then things like sun spots are reduced quite radically, never mind wrinkles and such.

Although the researchers acknowledged they would need to do further, larger research to follow up, the key result seems to be that they highly recommend daily protection, whether by sunscreen usage or other means.

Continue reading "Daily sunscreen use reduces melanoma risk by half"

Beauty motivates skin health in teens, not cancer

I think this article in Cosmetics Design is right on the mark when it comes to how best to connect with motivating teenagers to protect their skin. Let's face it - haha - being positive is so much more appealing than negative anyway. The messages that are being giving out constantly about the state of our world today can be rather depressing, so the tendency to pull towards the positive message is very natural.

When you're a teenager, life is supposed to be relatively fun and carefree, is it not? Being accepted as part of the "in crowd" or being admired and respected by your peers does wonders for self esteem and confidences. So maintaining a pale skin when everyone else is out there getting bronzed up for the summer that's beckoning, is quite a hard challenge.

If the message can be conveyed that whatever your natural skin colour is, it is the most beautiful colour possible, then perhaps a more healthy attitude towards the health of our skin will result. It's possibly a long term and rather an arduous task but well worth the outcome if we succeed.

However, it seems that already some university studies have revealed that teenagers will respond better to looking after their skin so they don't age prematurely with wrinkles and such, than because it will prevent skin cancer. Somehow that's far more positive and therefore motivating for them, which is great!

One way or another the message needs to get out there.

Continue reading "Beauty motivates skin health in teens, not cancer"

Hairstylists help to detect skin cancer

Having spoken out about the dangers of using the variety of chemicals one gets lured into using on our scalp by dying our hair, it's interesting to note that some of the best detectives for spotting cancer are your hairdressers. Think about it - they're the ones who get to inspect your scalp quite intimately as they work with your hair while washing, dying, cutting or drying.

It is most common to get skin cancers where people forget to cover up or apply their sunscreen, like the head, ears and the back of the neck. Detecting something on your own scalp is really difficult as of course you can't ordinarily see something. Undetected, these cancers can then grow or spread quite alarmingly before anything is found. If it's actually a melanoma, the result can be deadly.

In fact, the statistics about survival from melanomas on the scalp versus elsewhere on the body are alarming enough to motivate for an education program with hair professionals. I for one, will wholeheartedly support this.

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Skin Types: where do you fit in?

The Skin Cancer Foundation have constructed a fun quiz to help you to establish which skin type you have. This is with respect to how your skin copes with being exposed to the sun's UV rays and not whether you have a dry, oily or mixed skin type.

Once you understand how well your skin copes with the sun, you will be able to manage your time outdoors a whole lot more effectively with respect to potential sun damage. There is a very thin line between being outdoors in the sunshine and embracing the health benefits of the sun's UVB rays that allow you to create Vitamin D, and actually getting sun burnt! The latter is something to avoid no matter what skin type you are as we are all open to skin cancer risk once we allow our skin to get burnt.

So take time to have a look at this quiz, or watch this video.

Continue reading "Skin Types: where do you fit in?"

Indoor tanning: Statistics are still hugely alarming

The Skin Cancer Foundation commented recently on a JAMA Dermatology study on “International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning". The global result of "the number of skin cancer cases due to tanning being higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking" is reflected in the same way in the USA. Even though in some States they have successfully banned teenagers from tanning salons it's too soon to see any improvements. The Skin Cancer Foundation further reported that "in the USA alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning. Out of this number, 6,199 are melanoma cases."

This is apparently the first time a 'global' assessment has been done of just how prevalent indoor tanning actually is. Altogether there were 88 study groups, involving 406,696 participants that were spread over 3 main locations - the USA and Canada; Northern and Western Europe; and Australia.

Slowly but surely the message surely has to reach people of all ages and all skin types, that tanning in salons is really not a healthy habit!

Continue reading "Indoor tanning: Statistics are still hugely alarming"

Sun protection: education and awareness

Individuals of all ages and skin tones should be made more aware of the dangers of the sun's UV rays and wear sunscreen daily to prevent damage to their skin. This damage not only increases the risk of non-melanoma skin cancers but melanoma skin cancer too.

This is the view of the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), who have aligned with Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in requesting for more information to be made available to the general public about UV exposure and the risks related to it.

I was very surprised to learn in a Harris Interactive survey report, just how many Americans are unaware of the dangers of the sun's UV rays. One example - 38% said that they believed the main time to wear sunscreen was on cloudy days. However, more alarming to me is that even when close friends or family are struck with a life threatening melanoma skin cancer, many people and carry on being careless in the sun, regardless of the life lesson at hand, will still believe that "it won't happen to me".

Applying some due diligence to sun care, without being paranoid, can be relatively easy. In fact, it's so beneficial to be able to embrace the sun's wonderful energies, if you just know how to manage your time in the sun without getting burnt.

Continue reading "Sun protection: education and awareness"

Parabens and Breast Cancer

Sunscreens can contain any number of what I believe are toxic ingredients worth avoiding - liquid paraffin, phenoxyethanol, sodium laurel sulphate, propylene glycol, fragrances, artificial colours, PEG emulsifying waxes, dioxane and quite commonly, parabens.

When it comes to the parabens, there have been a number of studies done in the last 2 decades illustrating the need to look closer at the potential link to breast cancer. Parabens possess oestrogen properties, which is known to play a central role in the development, growth and progression of breast cancer.

Parabens in deodorants were thought to be a main cause, but have also been seen to be present in women who have never used underarm products. In fact, parabens were detected in the majority of the breast tissue samples taken by the Oncology Dept at the University of Reading of 40 women studied with breast cancer. "But this cannot be taken to imply that they actually caused breast cancer" said Dr Philippa Darbre. However, she noted that "the fact that parabens were present in so many of the breast tissue samples does justify further investigation".

Continue reading "Parabens and Breast Cancer"

An Alternative approach to Skin Cancer

A favourite proactive cancer site of mine is Cancer Active. Started by a father after losing his daughter to skin cancer, it is now considered Britain´s Number 1 Complementary and Integrative cancer charity. They cover both orthodox medicine and complementary cancer treatments that 'may increase your survival and even prevent a cancer returning'.

The latest research is made available in layman's language articles, where their main objective is to 'quite simply, help you increase your personal odds of beating cancer.'

Preventing skin cancer is a key, focussed message of theirs and they have a Sun Safe list of '15 ways to save your skin'. Amongst this list, I like the fact that they don't just tell you to wear sunscreen, they tell you look at the ingredients and choose non-toxic sunscreens. I do think they could be a little more detailed and specific here though.

Skin cancer being the second most common form of cancer in the UK, and non-melanoma skin cancer affecting 57,000 new people a year in the UK and over a million in the USA, makes their contribution increasingly important.

Looking after this valuable protective skin of ours should now be a high priority.

Continue reading "An Alternative approach to Skin Cancer"

World UV Map

I've just discovered a UV app that has been created by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) together with the UK's National Meteorological Office. It aims to provide free daily UV forecasts to the general public out there and have already made it available to over 10,000 locations worldwide they claim.

In their words, 'The UV forecast identifies the peak strength of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun at a particular place on a particular day.' Key message from this professional organisation is that 'UV rays can cause damage to the skin and can cause sunburn – which may lead to skin cancer.' The overriding message is to look after yourself and this empowering tool allows you to do just that.

This BAD company is everything BUT bad! An acronym for British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), it is a central association of practising UK dermatologists. Through voluntary participation, they collectively aim to "continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease", hence their slogan ‘Healthy Skin for All’. Through sharing their knowledge and providing proactive programs, they focus on early detection of skin cancer, as well as prevention and improved recovery.

The Met Office claims to be "the most accurate and reliable weather information on TV and radio, in print, and online". Whether this is globally or locally true it does not say… The end result is well worth looking at, especially if in the UK!

Continue reading "World UV Map"

Balanced exposure to the sun has increasing benefits

I just read another article about new scientific evidence that the sun can help our bodies to heal. Get sun exposure right and your heart may thank you

The more we learn about the benefits of Vitamin D and careful, managed exposure to the sun, the more we realise just how wonderful the sun actually is!

Also, we realise how amazing our bodies are in the way that they can look after themselves and heal themselves if we give them a chance. Science is coming round more and more to realise this I think.

So, make sure to embrace the wonderful benefits of the sun in a balanced and sensible manner.

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Tips for Healing Sun Damage

The Skin Cancer Foundation has recently published an article called 5 Tips for Repairing Sun Damage.

I am always very keen to support them and read their publications with interest. However, I really do have to disagree with a couple of their tips here.

Repairing those brown sun spots (solar lentigos) can be done using wonderful natural, non-chemical methods like using Kigelia and Aloe Ferox (found in all of sunumbra's sunscreens as their key foundation botanicals).

Chemical based exfoliation can also be done using natural non-chemical based ingredients like oats or Dead Sea salts.

Continue reading "Tips for Healing Sun Damage"

How to give a positive message about sun exposure?

Cindi Eggemeyer, a teacher from Festus, Missouri, was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 45. She shares her experience actively with students, trying to persuade them that tanning, especially indoor tanning, is something not to dismiss too lightly as a potential health hazard.

Cindi speaks about her mother lecturing her for years as a youngster, but she ignored her advice and continued to lay out in the sun as well as use tanning beds. She tells us that her mother is" 71 years old and looks 60 because she didn’t get any sun. I have premature aging and wrinkles already and I’m only 45. Please listen to your parents.”

Aiming to reach teenagers with the right message, The Skin Cancer Foundation has a free, interactive Sun Smart U education program, aimed at students in grades 6-12. It includes a lesson plan complete with a true/false activity; a quiz to help students identify their skin type; real-life video segments of a young woman with melanoma; and an animation explaining sun-smart safety tips to kids.

Perhaps what is missing, is a message about how wonderful the sun can be - if managed in a way that you don't get burnt? Although Cindi has a hard message to convey, obtaining enough Vitamin D through clever exposure to the sun's UVB rays, she can help her body to resist the melanoma naturally.

Continue reading "How to give a positive message about sun exposure?"

Don't ignore the early warning signs.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, "between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will be diagnosed with either a BCC or an SCC at least once". Facts about non-melanoma skin cancers are explained for both basel cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.

The important take home message is that most of these non-melanoma skin cancers are preventable, especially if conscious about protecting areas such as the ears, nose and lips. Plus the warning signs should NOT be ignored, thinking they will go away.

Although melanoma takes centre stage when it come to being deadly or not, the non-melanoma skin cancers can be terribly disfiguring and if neglected completely, even deadly.

Continue reading "Don't ignore the early warning signs."

Don't eat or drink cancer - be natural and organic

Natural News have a delightful article on how Mother Nature has a cure for everything if you just look for it. It also has the ability to boost our immunity systems and prevent disease.

Acknowledging the capability of the human body to absorb the goodness contained within organic fruits and vegetables is the basis for healing and living a healthy life. Nutritionists and Naturopathic Physicians will tell you this across the globe. Given the correct fuel, the body will fire "on all cylinders", like a well tuned machine.

In the world of sunscreens, if is possible to find some that are not only free of toxic chemicals, but contain only natural and organic ingredients, to the extent that you could even eat it! Looking to nature for solutions - one of my favourites - there are so many wonderful botanical ingredients to be found, that provide sun protective qualities as well as a skin health boost. There's no need for harmful chemicals in your sunscreen.

Besides Natural News's advice in "tracking the truth" and learning to focus on eating and drinking healthily, make sure to apply this knowledge to your choice of sunscreen too.

Continue reading "Don't eat or drink cancer - be natural and organic"

Mobile apps empowering dermatology?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed the recent surge in the number of mobile apps available today related to dermatology. A senior author of the study and Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine - Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH - observed that although the information available has great benefits, people must also be cautioned.

This ability to access information related to dermatology so readily has enabled people to diagnose many different skin diseases affecting themselves or others. Although this is wonderful knowledge to have, the extent of self diagnosis and treatment is probably worth checking out further with a medical expert.

"This availability of information will require some caution by users, but it also opens up new opportunities," DR Dellavalle said. "I think most apps are generally safe right now, but I would not rely solely on them. I would cross-reference them with other apps, other people and with your doctor."

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Foods the heath experts avoid: possible lessons for us all?

In this information age where we have do's and don'ts fired at us from all directions every day, sometimes contradicting and definitely confusing overall, it is possibly worth noting what the various experts avoid when it comes to food choices. Mirrors the cosmetics industry where so many harmful ingredients are used in products.

A report by Odyssey Magazine lists the following various experts and their examples for avoidance:

1.Endocrinologist: Canned Tomatoes

"The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food."

2.Farmer: Corn-Fed Beef.

Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feeding their animals corn and soybeans fatten up the animals faster for slaughter but provide a lot less nutrition for us. grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease.

3.Toxicologist: Microwave Popcorn.

Chemicals in the lining of the bags, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are part of a compound class linked to infertility in humans. Microwaving vaporises the chemicals which migrate into your popcorn and accumulate and stay in your body for years.

4.Farm Director: Nonorganic Potatoes.

Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. Potatoes are treated with fungicides during the growing season, then with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. Even after they’re dug up, they are treated again to prevent them from sprouting. Potato farmers won't eat their own potatoes - they grow their own on a separate plot!

5.Fisheries Expert: Farmed Salmon.

Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. The result is farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

6.Cancer Researcher: Milk Produced With Artificial Hormones.

Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of an insulin-like growth factor in milk.

7.Biotech Specialist: Conventional GMO Unfermented Soy.

Genetically engineered food is a cause of great concern due to the manipulation of DNA and genetic code including transfers from one species to another. Since almost 90% of soy in the world is genetically modified, long-term health problems can result, especially with hormonal balance and even cancer.

8.Organic-Foods Expert: Conventional Apples.

Believing that apples would win a "most doused in pesticides contest” due to their high needs for pesticides due to low resistance.

Continue reading "Foods the heath experts avoid: possible lessons for us all?"

Vitamin D and foods

Humans derive most of our vitamin D from the action of the sun's UVB rays in our skin. However, when you look into 'typical' Western lifestyles with a predominant focus on indoor daily activities rather than outdoor, sun exposure is mostly insufficient for adequate vitamin D creation.

For this reason, dietary intake becomes very important. Based on this, 2 Swiss researchers recently published a review of their studies on the vitamin D content of various protein food groups.

This included vitamin D content in red meat and poultry, eggs, dairy products and fish. The authors concluded that “because recommendations for vitamin D intake have recently been increased considerably, the possibility to cover these requirements with foodstuffs, is even more difficult.”

So perhaps it is now time to fortify more foods with vitamin D? It seems that many people will need to get vitamin D into their diet or they will just not get enough. Eggs, cereals, breads, canned vegetables, fast foods, yogurt and cheese could all be fortified with Vitamin D.

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Stop use of dangerous chemicals in cosmetics

Legislation does its best, but actually falls way short when it comes to chemicals associated with cancer and endocrine disruption. Cosmetics companies can put just about anything in their products actually.

However, many companies have taken the responsible step of reformulating products containing formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, like DMDM Hydantoin, and the four parabens linked to endocrine disruption.

EWG are highlighting 2 companies of significant standing - Revlon and L'Oreal - who are putting their customers at risk in their continual use of these specific chemicals. They seem to think it's unnecessary to withdraw their use of them.

EWG have put together a petition appealing to them to remove these chemicals and any others deemed to be dangerous, from their products.

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