It’s that time of year when the media trots out medical experts who promote sunscreen as the best defense against skin cancer.  Yet, skin cancer remains the most common malignancy in the United States, despite decades of increased sunscreen usage and people avoiding sun exposure. As many as 87, 000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017, and nearly 10,000 will die from metastatic melanoma. What’s going on here?

According to the Environmental Working Group, 75% of sunscreens contain “worrisome ingredients” and offer inferior sun protection. For example, 70% of the sunscreens tested contain compounds that, when exposed to sunlight, generate reactive oxygen species, which are chemicals that damage cell structures, causing ill health and aging. Therefore, most sunscreens will promote cancer instead of preventing it!

Further, the typical “banana brand” sunscreen is full of parabens – chemicals which may increase the rate of breast cancer and interfere with the male reproductive system. Parabens can also antagonize androgens (testosterone) and wreak havoc on your body’s hormones. Oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate are two other harmful ingredients in sunscreens. Oxybenzone has been linked to contact uticaria (hives), contact dermatitis, degradation of the epidermis, and cancer. The combination of retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) and UVA rays has been shown to increase the cancer rates.

In addition, consumers are fooled by the high and misleading “sun protection factor” (SPF) numbers. SPF merely refers to a product’s ability to block the UVB rays that affect the superficial epidermis skin layer. While SPF helps to prevent sunburn, it does nothing to block the UVA radiation that makes up 95% of the sun’s rays and that causes much greater damage than UVB. UVA penetrates more deeply, accelerating aging, suppressing immunity, and fostering skin cancer.

The public is led to believe that higher SPF ratings are superior, but this gives people false security. Although 100 SPF sounds like it would offer twice the protection of 50 SPF, 100 SPF provides just one percent more UV protection!  When people think they are getting double the protection, they may believe they can stay in the sun longer, which also increases the amount of time they’re exposed to the damaging UVA rays, even if sunburn is avoided.

So what are the alternatives for protecting yourself? First, improve your diet.  Skin cancer, like most adult-onset cancers, is caused by poor nutrition and chemical toxins we breath, eat, and absorb through our skin. Second, clean up your act. Change your “oil filter” annually by doing a liver-gallbladder cleanse. This ensures your key detox organ (liver) runs at 100% to rid the body of toxins (which can be accomplished with the Standard Process Purification System), and your gallbladder is efficiently metabolizing fats.

Next, take the right supplements.  Two to three hours before sun exposure, take calcium lactate and Cataplex F (a proprietary blend of B6 and iodine) to extend the duration of sun exposure (by about 45 minutes) without sunburn. For a full day in the sun, add Shade Factor from LifeExtension to your calcium lactate and Cataplex F.  Shade Factor has no harmful chemicals, it blocks UVA and UVB rays, and contains botanicals to start healing any damage that does occur. In addition, extracts from green tea, licorice root, and milk thistle, as well as rosemary, zinc, and magnesium promote healing from sun damage.

Consume more essential fatty acids.  They, too, enhance the body’s ability to heal from damage that inevitably occurs in the sun. Sources of essential fatty acids include fish oil, coconut oil, flaxseed, oil, olive oil, and black current seed oil.

Use your sunscreen. Yes, sunscreen – there are safe options!  Choose mineral sunscreens which physically (rather than chemically) block the sun’s rays with zinc oxide and titanium oxide.  Unlike chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens are stable in sunlight, offer balanced protection from both UVB and UVA rays, and tend not to contain harmful additives.

One, last caveat: Do NOT avoid sun exposure completely. Your body converts sunlight to vitamin D, one of our most important nutrients.  You’ll recall that D strengthens bones & teeth, helps to prevent osteoporosis and many cancers, reduces blood pressure, and supports immune function, among other benefits.  Spend 30-45 minutes (15-30 if you are very fair) in the sun before you apply your sunscreen.  This will allow your body sufficient time to convert the sun’s rays to vitamin D so you can reap its benefits!