Considerations About Sunscreen

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In sunny North Carolina, almost any day of the year can be a day to get outside. That is one quality I love about this state.  Should we reach for the sunscreen EVERY TIME we head outside?  Maybe not….here are some things to consider:

Excessive sun exposure and lack of sun exposure both have negative consequences.  Too much sun and I will state the obvious, sun damaged skin, wrinkles, pigmented spots and increased risk of skin cancer.  Lack of sun exposure can also result in Vitamin D deficiency which results in increased risk of cancers including melanoma. 

Moderate sun exposure offers health benefits like Vitamin D production, improved mood, reduced stress & general well being.

Application of sunscreen can result in a false sense of security. If there are chemicals in your sunscreen, those chemicals can act as hormone disruptors.  The sunscreen can also leave your skin LOOKING unchanged, when in reality the sunscreen does not block UVA rays, which cause melanoma.

Since sunscreens were developed in the 1970’s the incidence of skin cancers continues to rise and over 1 million new skin cancers are diagnosed annually. While many of these cancers are not fatal it appears that sunscreen alone is not the answer.

What is one to do?

We recommend a balanced approach to sun exposure and advocate for responsible sun habits, while acknowledging the potential benefits of sunlight for overall health.  Spend time outdoors, outside of peak exposure hours 10AM-3PM.  If you are going to be exposed for longer periods of time use physical sunblock such as mineral sunblock containing NON-micronized zinc and NO titanium, wear protective clothing, long sleeves, long pants, hats, sunglasses.  Be mindful and don’t stress!  Enjoy your time outdoors!