This sunscreen blog will help you stay up to date on news about sunscreen, the dangers and benefits of sunlight and related health matters...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
A new research project in Australia, home to the highest skin cancer incidences in the world, aims to "establish an understanding of the amount of sun people are exposing themselves to and then to see if their behaviour needs to be modified."
The real essence of this is to get to understand if people should seek more sunlight, or look to Vit D supplementation.
Researchers from the Nencki Institute in Warsaw have come up with an intriguing and exciting research program that's about deceiving brain tumours and changing malignant gliomas into benign forms. This is of great interest to me as melanoma sufferers can end up fighting brain tumours if their fight against the spread of the cancer doesn't succeed.
Their findings have resulted in the Nencki researcher team developing small molecules, or short peptides, that interfere with the binding of the tumorous cells (CSF2 proteins) to the appropriate receptors on microglial cells. What this actually means is that the signal coming from the tumorous cells gets blocked, which prevents the microglia from "re-programming" itself.
These developed molecules, together with all relevant genetic tools, have been patented internationally. Work has started in both preclinical and clinical trials.
What is important for the Nencki researchers is that these molecules target only the one fragment of the signalling pathway that functions between the cells of the malignant tumour and the microglia. This will then guarantee that no other functions of the organism will be affected.
"Our research is investigative in nature and above all aims to explain why and how tumours develop. We conducted our research mostly on experimental models, mouse glioma cells or human glioma cells growing in mice. Therefore the road to develop drugs and therapies limiting the invasiveness of gliomas in human is still very long. Luckily we already discovered the molecule that is worth targeting," sums up Prof. Kamińska.
After South America in Peru and West Africa in Burkina Faso, Greentech has now started a cooperation project with the university in Madagascar. Greentech has equipped the University with a complete research laboratory, specifically for the development of new cosmetic active compounds. This has included all necessary equipment for plant extraction and analytical control of these cosmetic ingredients.
The new network GreenMadag has been especially created for the development of new actives from their local flora rich in medicinal applications. In addition to this there is an educational investment into the creation of competent technicians, which is already under way.
The first development steps of cosmetic ingredients and extraction assays will be done in this local GreenMadag laboratory, but any follow-up scale-up phases will be performed in Greentech’s laboratory.
This extends an added value service offering to the local industry producing raw materials, which is always great for keeping things local. Not to mention the new employment for engineers and technicians in Madagascar and thus new income for local communities.
From its creation, Greentech was active in the preservation of rare or threatened species by developing in vitro cultures and, ever since, has remained engaged in the preservation of the world's plant resources. I shall watch their progress with this latest venture with great interest!
Ashland Speciality Ingredients has recently announced that they are looking to include technology first looked at over 30 years ago by the FDA in the USA. In attempting to improve their offerings to the sunscreen industry "in response to new demands", they have decided to include homosalate in their range of broad-spectrum UV formulation solutions.
This astounds me. Not only because I really expected to read about them including one of the many really innovative, healthier natural sunscreen ingredient options being researched these days. BUT because they have chosen to use something that appears to be a very unhealthy choice? According to the Skindeep database of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) "Homosalate is a common sunscreen ingredient. Research indicates it is a weak hormone disruptor, and sunlight breaks down the chemical into harmful byproducts."
I have to ask how this is seen as a "response to demands" in the suncare industry? What about the increasing demand for healthier, non-toxic sunscreen ingredients?
For the last few decades we have all been increasingly impressed upon to protect ourselves from the damaging suns UV rays, knowing the high risks for skin cancer. More recently however, sunlight has been acknowledged for its healing properties, not least of all the fact that it helps us to make vitamin D, which in turn protects against other diseases and illnesses.
However, it's when we overdo the sunshine that we get into problems like sunburn and the possibility of skin cancer. Researchers are now trying to discover if the benefits of sunlight can actually outweigh the risks. Expressed differently, they believe that if you are diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in your life, it could possibly show a protective association against other diseases and illnesses.
This new research has been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
In their study, the researchers have examined "the entire Danish population above the age of 40 through the years of 1980 and 2006." This has effectively included 4.4 million individuals in total. The results showed that "having a diagnosis of skin cancer was associated with less myocardial infarction, less hip fracture in those below age 90 years and less death from any cause."
Although an amazingly extensive study in itself, the researchers have inevitably called for further study to examine this relationship in more depth.
Currently we have sunscreens that focus on protecting us from Ultraviolet A and B light. Until fairly recently we were only really being protected from UVB rays in sunscreens, thus allowing the UVA rays to do their deeper level damage unhindered.
Norwegian researchers have recently discovered a bacteria living in the Trondheim Fjord with the Latin name Micrococcus luteus, that contains a pigment which can absorb UV radiation in the range 350-475 nanometres, which is far longer than UVA rays. Needless to say, this is a very exciting discovery for the medical and cosmetics industries as all longer wave radiation is directly linked to skin cancer in many forms, including melanomas.
Promar AS, a Norwegian company, commissioned researchers at SINTEF to include in their bioprospecting a search for an organism with the ability to filter long-wavelength radiation. After experimenting with hundreds of microorganisms, researchers found Micrococcus luteus. Promar AS have now taken out patents for both the manufacture and use in future sunscreens of a light-filtering substance extracted from this bacterium.
This is close to my heart, in that SINTEF have managed to locate microorganisms in the natural environment that they can then use in sunscreens for a naturally healthy means of protection. The trick will be in how they manage to extract the particular carotenoid-pigment from a bacteria that measures 1-2 micrometers wide, in quantities sufficient for cost effective commercial use in sunscreens.
I look forward to their updates.
The Moffitt Cancer Center released information about their first human trial of a new single injection treatment that may revolutionise melanoma treatments.
All their early clinical trials with mice have shown that a dye solution called PV-10 is able to increase the immune response in melanoma tumours, as well as in the blood stream.
Results have shown a significant reduction in skin cancer lesions, as well as a sizeable reduction in melanoma tumours that had spread to the lungs.
The PV-10 solution has been developed from 'Rose Bengal', which is a water-soluble xanthene dye that is commonly used by ophthalmologists to stain damaged cells in the human eye.
This first human clinical trial is being conducted with people with advanced melanomas. They will be injecting the melanoma with the dye and besides measuring the response from the actual melanoma, they will measure any increase in their anti-tumour immune cells.
How wonderful if these trials are successful.
Piz Buin sunscreen, part of Johnson and Johnson's range, has recently announced that they will reformulate without use of the preservative MI - short for Methylisothiazolinone. This is as a result of at least 150 complaints registered with them for a variety of allergic reactions that included red lumps on the skin, fluid-filled bumps, blisters, itchy eyes, and in a few cases severe swelling.
Industry will address this in due course, starting with discussions between dermatologists, the CTPA and the British Association of Dermatologists. These things take time of course. In the meantime, perhaps it is in all of our interest to make sure to avoid this ingredient wherever possible.
Not an easy one to remember, but if you suffer any sort of allergic reactions, perhaps it is worthwhile to make a note and remember to look it up on ingredient lists?
My advice is always to go with a mineral sunscreen with a natural preservative and added organic ingredients.
The Japanese have always been known to love the really pale skin look. However, it seems that the really sun-kissed tanned look so prominent in Western cultures is getting a knock from the "red carpet" brigade. This has been happening for a while but seems there are some new celebrities embracing a more natural skin in the movie and modelling industry.
The Skin Cancer Foundation interviewed some celebrity makeup artists and some encouraging trends were revealed. They talked about the need for a "lit-from-within glow instead of a bronzed tan from artificial UV light or sun exposure" and the resultant focus on skincare, rather than that bronzed image that has been so popular the last few decades. With their focus on style plus their knowledge of skin care, makeup artists are actually positioned well to influence this reversal of the tanning trend.
Celebrities enjoying this new focus of looking after their skin include Toni Collette, Cindy Crawford, Debra Winger, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Zooey Deschanel, Celine Dion and Lee Ann Womack. Part of this trend is that the stars have come to recognise that their own unique skin tone is part of what "distinguishes and defines them", rather than a more homogenised tanned look.
As stated by the Skin Cancer Foundation, new research indicates that just one indoor tanning session raises your risk of developing potentially deadly melanomas by 20 percent and each additional session per year will boost the risk another two percent. So this trending is wonderfully encouraging when considering the number of people using tanning salons every year.
Another habit of the makeup artists that I liked was that "when they spot sun damage, they go into repair mode, moisturising their client’s skin and using vitamin-rich antioxidant serums", while at the same time, educating them about skin care.
Not that I am too much of a fan of no sunshine however. On the contrary, I advocate lots of healthy sun exposure, if at the very least for great Vitamin D creation. I'm all for abandoning the fake baked look or even hours of sunbathing, instead of just enjoying good healthy activities outdoors. As long as you have a healthy respect for not overdoing the sun, wear quality, non-toxic sunscreen protection, preferably with added antioxidants, and know your skin type's limits, time outdoors is fabulous! However, knowingyour skin type is an integral part of looking after your skin.
Another exciting new development is happening 'down under' where the sun is extremely hot almost all year round. This adds to the number of projects across the globe, where scientists are looking to nature for new innovative solutions in sun care.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, as the national government body for scientific research, has focussed their attention on the incredible sun protective qualities present in The Great Barrier Reef's coral. Having spent the last two years adjusting the coral's 'sunscreen code' to be more human safe, they anticipate being able to use this as a sunscreen ingredient for humans. Apparently they have created a "suite of 48 new sunscreen filters". Seeing as the current FDA approved list of sunscreen filter ingredients is 17, the Australian's approved list around 25, the EU's 22 and Japan's 28, what this suite will consist of is highly intriguing. Hopefully we will see it way before the 5 years that they predict for them to be available to the public?
However, I was a little disappointed to read that the natural sun protection properties used by the corals could not be harnessed without too much synthetic intervention. CSIRO partnered with a skincare company called Larissa Bright Australia to create this sunscreen filter, said to protect from both UVA and UVB rays. So, we wait to see how healthy an option this offering will be, especially when compared with all the toxic sunscreen ingredient options available today.
This discovery has the possibility to generate a whole new exciting approach to sunscreen manufacture, harnessing the same protective barriers in Australia's Great Barrier Reef corals that have been developed over millions of years. If we can survive the harsh Australian sun the way the coral does, then we really have cause for celebration.
Another great example of looking to nature for healthier, natural solutions in suncare.
With a steady increase in the number of research programs looking for healthier alternatives for sun protection, it was really excellent to read about Dr Sally Dickinson's work with broccoli sprout extracts in topical applications. The University of Arizona has been testing the capacity of the naturally occurring compound in broccoli called sulforaphane, which is loaded with chemopreventive properties. “We already know that it is very effective in blocking sunburns, and we have seen cases where it can induce protective enzymes in the skin,” Dickinson said.
Dr. Dickinson’s research shows that sulforaphane is a highly adaptable, highly effective agent when it comes to inhibiting cancer-causing pathways (such as the AP-1 protein), while activating chemoprotective genes (such as the Nrf2 gene).
Sulforaphane is one of the many natural products being explored for use in topical prevention of UV-induced skin cancers through the Chemoprevention of Skin Cancer Program Project, headed by Dr. Bowden at University of Arizona Cancer Center. In the future, they believe, it is possible that patients with compromised immune systems may be able to apply a topical sulforaphane mixture to their skin in order to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Sunumbra sunscreens, however, have been using broccoli sprout extract in all their suncare products since their inception. It's partly why it's been seen as a sunscreen so healthy you can eat it! Certainly it's a easy way to get kids to enjoy their broccoli.
In Nov 2010 the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) reported on 3 species of whales showing signs of being sunburnt. They were also worried, with all the climate change concerns, about it getting worse for them over time. Their studies over 3 years focussed on blue whales, fin whales and sperm whales in the Gulf of California, determining the effect of increasing levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on their health. Photographs were taken of the whales to chart any visible damage, and small samples taken with a crossbow-fired dart, were collected to examine the state of their skin cells.
As with humans, the lighter-skinned whales seemed to have the most difficulty dealing with the sun. Blue whales had more severe skin damage than their darker-skinned counterparts, fin whales and sperm whales, even though the latter spend bigger chunks of time at the surface.
In Sep 2013, a follow up to this study was done by ZSL to understand the knock-on effects of this skin damage at a surface as well as a molecular level and whether whales can respond by enhancing their own natural sun-protection mechanisms.
The correlation between whale and human responses to sun exposure was “very clear and very pronounced,” they said.
They analysed 106 blue whales, 23 sperm whales and 55 fin whales during their annual migration from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of California, lasting from Feb to April. The increase in melanocytes was greatest in blue whales, the palest whale. The sperm whales had a slight change and the fin whales, being the darkest, had no change.
Examining their mitochondrial DNA, which is also damaged in sunburned human skin, the researchers found that Blue whales suffered the worst mitochondrial DNA damage, then sperm whales and lastly fin whales. These results suggested that melanin protects whales against UV radiation, in the same way it does in us humans.
One area not yet examined, is whether there are any defensive mechanisms that are unique to whales, that could help improve sun protection in humans. Once again, we can look to nature for best solutions to protect ourselves, besides using whales like UV barometers, telling us how much UV is getting to a specific part of the ocean.