I recently had a visit with my primary care physician to follow up on my various and sundry medical and health issues (so far, so good! I’m off Nexium for my tummy troubles AND, for the time being, Synthroid for my slightly under active thyroid. Only time will tell if I can remain Synthroid-free or not. I’m supposed to develop a taste for seaweed. I have never even touched sushi so I have some uncharted territory to explore, but I’m willing to do it.)
And no, that has nothing to do with sunscreen, but I’m glad you asked.
At said appointment, my doctor brought up the topic of sunscreen. As I’ve mentioned before, she is an MD but she takes a holistic approach to health care (this should NOT be a novelty, but unfortunately it is.) She advised me to use sunscreen, but to allow myself (and the kids) about 15 minutes of full mid-day summer sun on at least 50% of the body before applying sunscreen.
The theory is that we as a culture have gone overboard with the sunscreen, and our rising rates of melanoma may have something to do with our lack of vitamin D. She urged me not to burn, of course, but not to avoid the sun altogether.
I was not hard to convince, I’ve always allowed myself and my kids to tan, mainly because I like a tan and because it seemed nonsensical to me that any and all sun could be bad. I’m thrilled to learn that my instincts may actually be proven to hold some truth.
As far as what sunscreen to use, as usual nothing’s simple. The ones that are typically sold at the drugstore are full of harmful chemicals, according to some, anyway. My doctor advised me to use zinc oxide, and she recommended the Badger brand, which, ironically I had already picked up at my health food store because I read about it last summer and thought it sounded safer than the conventional stuff.
I’ve been surfing the web, trying to find articles to substantiate what my doctor told me, and it seems that the mainstream medical community still maintain that sunscreens containing chemicals such as oxybenzone and avobenzone are safe. This article in the New York Times is a bit dated, but it is a good summary of the issues.
Everything I find warning of the dangers of oxybenzone and promoting the benefits of barrier-type sunscreens seem to stem from a report from the Environmental Working Group.
This article on HealthyChild.com entitled Sunburn Prevention: Are Sunscreens Safe? is an interesting read. I’m not sure how the Kabana sunscreen she recommends compares to Badger. They both use zinc oxide, but evidently it matters how it is made. Honestly, is NOTHING simple anymore?
At this point, I am going to go with the recommendation of my doctor, and I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open for new information.
Is sunscreen something you have researched? What were your findings, and what are you using on your kids this summer?
UPDATE: Thanks to Marty, here is an excellent article by Dr. Axe outlining the sunscreen controversy: Sunscreen Does NOT Protect Against Cancer.