Skin cancer
Skin Health

How Much Sun Screen Do You Need?

We all need some sun exposure because it’s our primary source of vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones. But it doesn’t take much time in the sun for most people to get the vitamin D they need, and repeated unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression, and skin cancer. Even people in their twenties can develop skin cancer.

The sun, a six billion-year-old star, is currently still the center of confusion regarding its effects on the skin. The sun radiates visible light, which gives us the color we see; infrared light, which gives us the warmth we feel ultraviolet (UV) light, which we cannot see.

When UV radiation reaches the skin, some radiation is reflected away from the surface.  Some radiation is also absorbed and scattered into the tissue just beneath the skin’s surface. The skin’s living cells absorb a proportion of this radiation. UV radiation absorbed by living cells can result in damage to the skin such as: sunburn, aging of the skin, and skin cancer. However, vitamin D synthesis relies on UV radiation and is essential for the body. Some scientists believe that vitamin D prevents skin cancer.

So, does sun cause or prevent skin cancer?

Compounded on the questionable effects of sun on the skin regarding skin cancer, is the questionable safety of sunscreens. For example, the reflectors Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide in nano particle size and almost all UV absorbers have been shown to have adverse effects on the body.

Most kids rack up a lot of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it’s important that parents teach their children how to enjoy fun in the sun safely. Children get 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18, so protection is important. Teens and people below 40 years should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30-50 and use sunsmart protective clothing.

So what precautions should we take to prevent skin cancer?

The key to effectively protect the skin from skin cancer is to find a healthy balance between getting enough natural sunlight to maximize vitamin D production and obtain optimal health, while at the same time protecting the skin from damage that occurs from over-exposure to the sun.

The following precautions are recommended: