Northwest Wellness's Blog

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To Sunscreen or Not to Sunscreen?

I heard a rumor that somewhere around July 5 the sun will come out here in Western Washington; and when it does, we will have to decide what type of sunblock, if any, we will be using. This may come as a complete surprise to many of you who would never step out into the sunlight without some sort of sun protection. I guarantee your dermatologist not only recommends sunblock but even long sleeves and a hat for the ultimate skin protection. However, here are a few things to consider when enjoying our brief but beautiful Seattle summer. Nearly all conventional sunscreen products contain chemicals that have been linked with cancer such a parabens, harsh alcohols, toxic chemical solvents and petroleum oils. So although you might be protecting yourself from one form of cancer you could potentially be causing another. For more information on this issue see

The FDA refuses to allow natural ingredients to be used in sunblock/sunscreen products with the exception of zinc oxide and titanium oxide. What this means is that a product containing natural botanicals that are an effective form of sunblock may not be LABELED as a sunscreen or sunblock. This makes it unclear to consumers that there are natural alternatives to the chemical concoctions and prohibits these companies from effectively marketing their valuable products.

The use of sunblock can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb Vitamin D, a very important nutrient for healthy bones and teeth. In addition, Vitamin D deficiency is linked to certain forms of cancer, depressed immune and depression. In the Northwest it is estimated that 70% of our population is deficient in Vitamin D and should be taking an oral supplement in addition to sunlight exposure. This is another area where you may be trading one health risk for another.

Many readers may also not realize that you can boost your internal sun resistance but eating and antioxidant-rich diet containing foods like salmon, blueberries, apples and red beans. You can also supplement your diet with Omega 3s, Vitamin D drops, Vitamin A, E, C and glutathione. Anti-oxidants fight the harmful effects of free radical production that is produced by stress, poor diet, smoking and even sunburn. So what to do??? Personally, I spend a lot of time outside in the summer. I do my best year round to eat a healthy, anti-oxidant rich diet and avoid bad things like smoking and toxic chemicals. I also take anti-oxidant supplements like Protandim, Fish Oil and Vitamin D. When the sun does come out, I use a natural sunscreen until my body develops a base tan and then I only use the natural sunscreen on my face. I find this is a healthy, balanced and reasonable approach to the sunscreen debate.