It’s holiday season! Time for some fun in the sun outdoors, and a good dose of healthy Vitamin D. Despite the health-giving properties of Vitamin D (it’s known to assist our bodies with absorbing calcium) we all know that overexposure to the sun can be damaging, and the risk of life-threatening illness caused by sun damage is a very real one.
Although sunscreen is an undeniably important tool in our fight against sun damage and skin cancer, more recently, researchers have raised concerns around the use of chemical sunscreens.
At best, experts are saying that sunscreen formulations may need to be reassessed to contain safer ingredients, and at worst, some sunscreens could already be damaging our health.
The good, the bad and the nasties
There are so many sunscreens on supermarket and pharmacy shelves, how do we know what ingredients we should be looking for and which we should be avoiding?
AVOID TOXIC CHEMICALS
The human based consequences of absorbing these potentially malicious ingredients are of enough concern, but the environmental significance is equally important. Chemicals from sunscreens are washed into rivers, lakes and oceans and leach into the soil – land-based animals as well as aquatic wildlife are at risk of similar side effects that humans face when confronted with these endocrine disruptors. A further effect is the demise of coral reefs – scientists have linked chemical-based sunscreens to the bleaching and death of these threatened environments.
Food for good
Eating natural anti-inflammatory organic whole foods is also important for sun protection, as these provide key phytonutrients and phytochemicals that protect you from free radical damage – one of the causes of skin damage from sun exposure and stress.
Nuts & seeds
Carrots & leafy greens
Break it down – what is endocrine disruption?
The endocrine system regulates the use of hormones in our bodies, growth and development of organs, mood, metabolism and reproductive functions. When endocrine disruptors in the form of chemicals are introduced to our bodies, the endocrine system is disrupted and the results can be cancerous tumours, birth defects and developmental disorders. Hormone disruptors can interfere with any of the intricate systems in the body of both humans and wildlife.
Substances contaning endocrine disruptors range from pharmaceuticals to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT andother pesticides, and plasticisers such as bisphenol A. Endocrine disruptors can be found in everyday items such as a plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides. Studies show that they may result in human health effects including lowered fertility, some pre-natal and early post-natal development issues, endometriosis and some cancers.
My favourite sunscreens
There are some excellent natural skin protection products on the market that are free of harmful chemicals and endocrine disruptors. These are two of the products I use for myself and my family on a daily basis and especially when we are outdoors. Remember to reapply sunscreen often, especially after swimming or exercise, when it comes to sunscreen – less certainly isn’t more!
- Any zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreens
- Coola (available locally at Skins Cosmetics)
- Badger (available locally at Faithful to Nature)
- Sunumbra (available locally at Faithful to Nature and Wellness Warehouse)
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