Before you pack up your bags and head to the beach this summer you should know that sunscreen alone may not be enough to prevent skin cancer.
Even though sunscreen use has increased and people are more aware of the link between sunburns and skin cancer, the rate of skin cancer, especially melanoma continues to rise. If you are depending only on sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays this article will provide you with tools you need to decrease your risk of developing skin cancer.
Here are some additional ways to help you take care of your skin this summer and all year long:
- Eat an antioxidant rich diet
- Wearing proper sun protection
- Avoid chemical sunscreens
- Use a mineral based sunscreen
- Avoiding sunscreens with a high SPF
Eat an antioxidant rich diet
According to Jennifer Wu, a Los Angeles based dermatologist and author of “Feed Your Face, “Sunscreen and sun protective clothing is the first line of defense against sunburns and sun damage.” “Eating the right food can provide an extra layer of protection.” Eating foods rich in lycopene can reduce your risk of getting a sunburn. Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes can increase your skins tolerance to sunburn.
For example, one study found that volunteers who added tomato paste to their diet had less sunburns than those who didn’t. When you spend too much time in the sun without protecting your skin, the UVA and UVB rays burn your skin and lead to inflammation. Sunburns have been linked to an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
Did you know that what you eat can help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer? Eating lycopene rich foods can protect your skin and reduce your risk of developing cancer from the inside out.
Additionally, eating foods that are high in antioxidants like vitamin C can help protect your skin and body from the harmful effects of the sun and may help reduce your skin cancer risk. This includes : dark leafy greens, green, orange and red vegetables like peppers, papaya and tomatoes.
Diets high in carotenoids can protect your skin from sunburns; carotenoids are found in red, orange and green vegetables. They neutralize the harmful effects of UV rays by scavenging free radicals that damage skin. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that exposure to UVA and UVB rays lowers the levels of antioxidants in the body (less antioxidants to protect your skin cells from the effects of UV rays.
Wear Protective Sunwear
In addition to wearing a mineral based sunscreen, eat a diet full of lycopene and other antioxidants; you should wear protective clothing like hats and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. Protective sun wear helps reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by 27%.
The best time to get sun exposure without dealing with harmful UVA and UVB rays; is early in the morning and late afternoon. During this time, the sun is lower in the sky and less UV rays reach your skin. If you go out during the middle of the day try to stay in the shade (especially babies and young children).
What’s in your sunscreen?
There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens contain compounds that have been shown to disrupt hormones and have been linked to cancer. The following compounds are used in chemical sunscreens: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
Try your best to avoid chemical sunscreens and use mineral based sunscreens instead. Mineral based sunscreens usually contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
These compounds block the sun but are NOT absorbed into the skin (like chemicals in chemical sunscreens).
You can find alternatives to chemical sunscreens at www.ewg.org.
Avoid wearing sunscreens that contain Vitamin A
A study conducted by a group of US government scientists (National Toxicology Program), found that retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) may speed up the development of skin tumors when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight. According to EWG, sunscreens companies add vitamin A to 18 % of beach and sport sunscreens, 17 % of SPF moisturizers and 13% of SPF lip products.
Avoid SPF’S Higher than 50
Be wary of sunscreens with a SPF of 50 or higher, sunscreens with a high SPF are misleading and can “lull customers into having a false sense of security.” When people think that their sunscreen has a higher SPF they use less of it and don’t reapply it as often.
What are some ways you’re going to protect your skin this summer?