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Is Sun Exposure Bad for the Skin?

sun protection products in the sun

Today people and dermatologists alike have gone crazy over sun protection and are against tanning completely. They've gone so far as to created combination lotion/sunscreens and other combination products. They claim you should put on sunscreen everyday. Is this some conspiracy sparked by the Klu Klux Klan?

No, it's in response to all the people who get sun burned or who just want to maintain a nice natural tan. Quite often people get sunspots and premature aging from tanning or even worse skin cancer. Dermatologists don't want to get blamed, and they don't have the time to separate the smart people from the less intelligent people. Instead they've turned against tanning completely and encourage the widespread use of sun protection.

Example:

Jenny: "John, you just got back from skiing and you're totally sun burnt! Why didn't you wear sun protection?"

John: "I forgot to bring it. And besides, there was too long of a line at the ski lodge, plus it was too expensive."

They're right about tans and over exposure having a negative impact on the skin. The skin-care companies may have taken it one step too far by creating combination lotion/sunscreens. Especially when they say it's supposed to be put on every single day!

Unless you're sparkling white, on special medication, or actually getting decent exposure everyday, it might be a little too much. Avoid the lotion/sunscreens and just put on sun protection when you need it. Don't use SPF 15 lotion, because not only do you have to put on twice as much, but you have to pay twice as much.

Counter Argument: If you want to keep your skin as young as possible as you grow older, and avoid higher risks of cancer, you should use a moisturizer with SPF 15 everyday, or as often as possible. There is a mountain of evidence that supports this:

Darker
UV Index
Skin Cancer Prevention
Sun Skin
Health Facts
Sun Safety
UVB Radiation

~SPF 15 doesn't cost twice as much. You're getting a moisturizer and sunscreen in one.

Reply: Sunlight is essential for vitamin D production. It has been shown to actually help reduce the risk of cancer.

Counter: Studies have shown that even without sunlight, our diets contain enough vitamin D to be sufficient:

Vitamin D

Reply: Sunlight is supposed to lead to wrinkles, sunspots, and old looking skin, right? If it's really a cosmetic issue, then perhaps everyone is overlooking the fact that tan skin is more cosmetically pleasing than super white skin. Even though the skin beneath your clothes may have less wrinkles, its super whiteness can make it just as much of an eyesore.

For people who naturally have darker skin, this may not be a problem. However, naturally darker skin is also more resistant to the sun.

Counter: Artificial tanning lotion is now available and will give you the same tanned look without the sun damage.

Reply: It is socially unacceptable for males to wear fake tanning lotion, just as it is for them to wear makeup. Even for women, the jump from light to dark skin can be awkward when noticed among friends and family. And who has time to apply a fake tan everyday?

 

blue head and sholder silhouette of a man in the sun

 

 

 

If you look at a part of your skin that is kept under clothing and away from the sun, you will find that it is smoother and softer than other parts of your body that aren't kept covered by clothes.

Example: Compare your inner thigh to your forearm.

Aging doesn't play a large a role in wrinkles. Indeed, unexposed skin can remain wrinkle free and beautiful even into your seventies. Ultra violet light is the main cause of wrinkles.

There are three forms of harmful ultraviolet light: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

UVA rays occur the greatest in sunlight. They don't cause sunburns or damage to the top layers of your skin, but they penetrate deeper than UVBs, damaging the collagen and elastin fibers, which support your skin's firmness. Overtime, it causes your skin to loosen, sag, and wrinkle. It also damages the blood vessels in your skin, making them weaker against infections, bacteria (and acne), cancer, and other diseases. The damage is accumulative, and it often doesn't show up until many years later.

-UVA's are also able to penetrate car windows and water.

UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburns and surface damage to the skin, such as sunspots. They are the greatest contributors to skin cancer.

"They Don't Call It a Killer Tan For Nothing"
Video Clip

-By the American Academy of Dermatology, featuring Darrell Rigel, M.D.
http://www.aad.org/

(not affiliated with Evolution-X or Vilantae.com.)

UVC rays don't need to be worried about, because they are blocked out by the ozone layer.

Note: Some evidence shows that most (70%-80%) of the damage from the sun occurs before you've reached the age of 20. This damage will eventually show up. When you reach your thirties and forties, your skin's collagen will break down and loose it's elasticity. Wrinkles and old age will set in.

Counter: If I'm twenty years old, and the damage has already been done, then isn't it largely too late for me? Why should I take the time and effort to put on sunscreen everyday?

Reply: To prevent any further damage from being done. Also, to help avoid the possibility of skin cancer:

"The sun causes at least 90% of all skin cancers."

"One in six Americans will develop skin cancer during his or her lifetime."

"In the United States, over 760,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually, afflicting more people than any other cancer."

~Dermatology Secrets in Color, James E. Fitzpatrick, MD & John L. Aeling, MD.

Counter: Many studies have shown that people with a high lifetime amount of sunlight have lower amounts of cancer and melanoma than people with low amounts of sunlight:

Ainsleigh HG. "Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality." Preventive Medicine 1993;22;132-140.

E.M.John, G.G.Schwartz and D.M.Dreon "Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Risk" Northern California Cancer Center, 'Era of Hope' Conference, Oct.31-Nov.4, 1997

Garland F.C., E. Gorham "Biologic Effects of Light", 1993, E.G.Jung and M.F.Hollick eds. Walter de Gruyter, New York 1994, pp.509-516

Garland F.C., "Geographic variation in breast cancer mortality in the United States", Preventive Medicine, 1990; 19:614-622

Garland F.C., "Do sunlight and Vitamin D reduce the likelihood of colon cancer?", International Journal of Epidemiology, 1980; 9:277-231

Garland F.C., "Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and colon cancer: 8-year prospective study", Lancet, 1989; 2:1176-1178.


In the end, it's up to you to determine how often you should apply sunscreen.

More links of possible interest:
http://www.fcn.ca/sun.html


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Sources.
1.) Ainsleigh HG. "Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality." Preventive Medicine 1993;22;132-140.

2.) Fitzpatrick, James, John Aeling. "Dermatology Secrets in Color" Hanley & Belfus, 2001.

3.) "The Darker Side of Tanning" American Academy of Dermatology <http://www.aad.org/pamphlets/darker.html>

4.) Terry, Dubrow, Brenda Adderly. "The Acne Cure" Rodale, 2003.

5.) E.M.John, G.G.Schwartz and D.M.Dreon "Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Risk" Northern California Cancer Center, 'Era of Hope' Conference, Oct.31-Nov.4, 1997

6.) Garland F.C., "Do sunlight and Vitamin D reduce the likelihood of colon cancer?", International Journal of Epidemiology, 1980; 9:277-231

7.) Garland F.C., "Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and colon cancer: 8-year prospective study", Lancet, 1989; 2:1176-1178.

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