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 Preventing sunburn and sun damage
 Sunscreens 101 (USA)
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NaturistDoc
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Posted - 01/22/2014 :  01:46:49 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
SUNSCREEN + DEET = BADNESS

Just about the time I made my reservations for Club Orient this spring, i read that St. Martin and several other Caribbean islands are experiencing an increasing number of cases of insect-borne viral illnesses, specifically Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. While neither is likely to kill you, you might well wish you were dead; these are very unpleasant diseases. So wouldn't it be nice if somebody would make a combination sunscreen and bug repellent?

It turns out that they have, but the news is not all good. Most of the available combo products contain the usual sunscreen ingredients plus DEET, the well-known and effective insect repellent. But they don't play well together. DEET reduces the SPF of the sunscreen by more than 30%. That's bad. But there's another problem. Sunscreens promote the systemic absorption of DEET, which can be neurotoxic in large amounts. And ... DEET persists on the skin while sunscreen needs frequent re-application. With the combo products you'll give yourself unnecessary and potentially toxic re-doses of DEET. Several medical organizations have recommended against using these combo products.

What to do? One approach is to use separate sunscreen and DEET preparations, and only re-apply the sunscreen. That may limit DEET exposure, but it doesn't address the reduction of SPF reduction. I suppose you could use SPF 90 to compensate.

Another idea is to use sunscreens with non-DEET insect repellents. The two most often used are picaridin and IR3535. They appear to be less toxic than DEET, so naturally they're more expensive. Two examples are Sawyer Premium Sunscreen DEET-Free and Bullfrog Mosquito Coast. Read the labels closely; some Bullfrog products contain DEET.

Lastly, for those, like, totally back-to-nature types who don't want any nasty man-made chemicals, BadgerBalm sells a bug repellent/sunscreen made with zinc oxide sunscreen (white goop) and an assortment of plant oils (Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, etc.) to keep the bugs away. They do work somewhat, but are clearly less effective than the other repellents.

(Frankly, I've never quite understood the attitude that chemicals made by plants are somehow more virtuous than those made by DuPont. After all, it's the plant kingdom that gives us strychnine, ricin, and urushiol, to name only a few. But ... never mind.)




Country: USA | Posts: 1026 Go to Top of Page

NaturistDoc
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Posted - 01/22/2014 :  6:45:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My previous post got buried in an avalanche of spam. Do people really have nothing better to do?


Country: USA | Posts: 1026 Go to Top of Page

prairieflya
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Posted - 01/23/2014 :  07:28:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wow, good information, Doc! Thanks for the heads up!


Country: USA | Posts: 14 Go to Top of Page

calgarymark
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Posted - 01/26/2014 :  12:08:59 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
These comments are related to the above in a way - totally unscientific personal experiences.

A few years ago I discovered my Vitamin D level was below standard, so started to use our UVB lamp to generate Vitamin D (under carefully controlled exposure conditions). The result was Vitamin D stabilized at a desirable level . . . I went on vacation to the south of Spain and carefully slathered myself with a sunscreen from an organic provider in Florida, sold in resorts by representatives - not available in stores, I believe. Seemed to be good stuff as I didn't burn - at all - after long days nude in the sun or under a palapa or swimming. Then in the evening I applied the rose hip oil lotion to soothe and lubricate the desiccated skin. Pretty good experience! No burning, repeated in Croatia and again in Spain in other years. The one time I did burn was when my almost bald & crew cut head was hatless under a palm tree one morning and boy, it suffered for a few days! Remedy - wear an SPF 50 Tilley.

I mentioned the UVB lamp in a previous post about Vitamin D, acquired because my wife who has 'short gut' syndrome, cannot absorb Vitamin D by mouth and uses the lamp to create Vit.D which catalyses Calcium and Magnesium and restores bones - so much so that she has progressed from osteoporosis to 'you have the bones of a young woman' said our endocrinologist. Darn it, I've been forbidden to go look for her (the young woman that is - I know where my wife is).

What's that got to do with sunscreen? Not a lot in my opinion, but a lot to do with continuous exposure to sunlight / Vitamin D via the lamp in my case which seems to provide protection by careful steady development of a protective layer of some sort. Then when I hit the real sunlight I seem to be not as vulnerable as previously and not as vulnerable as habitually clothed northern or southern dwellers tend to be. . . Doc, do you have any comments?

CalgaryMark
Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.



Country: Canada | Posts: 93 Go to Top of Page

NaturistDoc
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Posted - 01/26/2014 :  1:58:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You denizens of the Great White North, being chronically sun-deprived, are certainly susceptible to Vit D deficiency. In fact anybody north of Atlanta is likely to be unable to produce enough Vit D in the winter no matter how much time you spend outside ... or how much skin you expose. Most of us eat enough Vit D to stay healthy, but a supplement isn't a bad idea.

The actual amount of sunlight needed to produce adequate Vit D is a subject of considerable controversy, and undoubtedly varies greatly by skin type. But there is evidence that frequent small doses of UVB alone (i.e., not enough to burn) can induce tanning, but only very gradually. UV-A tans you a lot faster, but at the cost of much greater skin damage and cancer risk. Whoever discovers a molecule that will safely stimulate melanin production without damaging DNA will get rich quick.



Country: USA | Posts: 1026 Go to Top of Page

Warmskin
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Posted - 01/28/2014 :  6:42:38 PM  Show Profile  Send Warmskin a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you for the information, Doc. I'll watch out for the DEET, and not buy anything with that concoction. I also spend a fair amount of time using a portable umbrella that I carry on my back to the nude beaches at Lake Tahoe, as well as find some trees to lie under during those times when the sun is high in the sky.

The main problem is when I float out onto Lake Tahoe on an air mattress and drift with the small waves. That's when you need the suntan lotion. The problems of having Scottish roots!

“I rise early almost every morning and sit in my chamber, without any clothes whatever, half an hour or an hour, according to the season, either reading or writing.”
Ben Franklin




Country: USA | Posts: 1898 Go to Top of Page

gnarlyoldman
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Posted - 01/28/2014 :  7:06:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I haven't used sunscreen chemicals on my skin in years. I begin each spring by getting an hour per day of natural sunshine, and extend the time as my skin provides its own natural sun blocking.

There is medical conjecture that any sunshine on skin causes a risk of skin cancer, but vitamin D produced by the skin is effective in reducing cancer risk throughout your body. The need for natural sunshine is such that our ancestors rapidly became light skinned after moving north. Even today African natives who move to more northern climates have higher death rates from vitamin D deficiency causes.

I avoid the tanning salons and don't use artificial sun lamps. Maybe those are harmful to skin, and maybe not. I go with natural sunshine as the most healthful choice.




Naked is green.



Country: USA | Posts: 254 Go to Top of Page

NaturistDoc
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Posted - 04/24/2014 :  5:13:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I started this thread back in 2006. Now, finally, Slate.com readers will learn what NRO members have known for years!

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/04/new_sunscreens_for_uva_and_uvb_the_fda_has_stalled_on_approving_broad_spectrum.html

There are the usual minor errors in the article and comments, but nothing too egregious.

Amiloxide, one of the sunscreens "held hostage" by the FDA is chemically very similar to octyl methoxycinnamate (cinoxate) which has been used for decades. It will likely share its good and bad features. Speaking of bad features ... there is a growing concern over the effects of chemical sunscreens once they are absorbed through the skin. In particular, several commonly used ones have been found to be endocrine disruptors", a somewhat hazy and controversial term for a substance that interferes with an endocrine hormone. (DES is the classic example.) There is little convincing evidence so far to suggest that chemical sunscreens act as endocrine disruptors in live humans, but some lab studies are a bit unsettling. However, even those alarmist hippies over at the Environmental Working Group have given Mexoryl and Tinosorb (still not available in the US) a relatively clean bill of health.

http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/europes-better-sunscreens/

Zinc oxide/titanium oxide sunblocks are now being formulated with smaller particles of these minerals in a laudable effort to make them look less like library paste on your skin. But, wouldn't you know it, the smaller particles may not be as effective in blocking UV, and some people are concerned that these "nanoparticles" may present health hazards of their own.

So ... the perfect topical sunscreen still doesn't exist. Personally I am going to avoid the cinnamates and "-benzones" from now on and continue to use Mexoryl/encamsule products and try not to whine too much about the cost. However, I intend to try a couple of the less-pasty zinc-oxide products (Badger Balm and Blue Lizard) and see how they perform.



Country: USA | Posts: 1026 Go to Top of Page

Bill Bowser
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Posted - 04/24/2014 :  6:12:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Apparently I'm one of those rare individuals with skin that doesn't suffer much from unprotected sun exposure. I never use sunscreen and I maintain a dark tan throughout the year by spending a lot of time in the sunshine. During my annual exams my dermatologist always frets because of my failure to use sunscreen, but after closely looking at my skin she usually advises me to continue doing what I'm doing.

It seems to me that the current fear about sun exposure is not entirely warranted. For much of human history people lived in the wild, with constant daily exposure to the sun. It is pretty unlikely that this was as detrimental as modern people think it is today. Of course there are some people who are prone to develop melanomas or other skin problems resulting from sun exposure, but moderate sun exposure is not the health hazard that most people have been convinced that it is.

Bill Bowser - Cincinnati

Nudists are everywhere, but they're hard to identify with their clothes on.



Country: USA | Posts: 314 Go to Top of Page

gnarlyoldman
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Posted - 04/25/2014 :  11:45:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm in agreement with Bill Bowser. I start each spring by daily sun exposure until my winter faded skin gets back to making its own natural sunburn protection. Sunshine is healthy and good for humans and other living things. Toxic chemical sun block usually does a lot more harm than good. The only time it may be beneficial is if you suddenly have to get all day exposure, or for several days in a row when you have not had time to build up exposure tolerance that year.

Fear of sunshine is like many other popular fears, more driven by hysteria and bunk than by reality, and doing more harm to more people than sunshine.


Naked is green.



Country: USA | Posts: 254 Go to Top of Page

NaturistDoc
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Posted - 04/26/2014 :  01:05:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bill Bowser, you are correct in that you are indeed lucky that you are apparently less susceptible to sun damage than the average bear. However, I must respectfully disagree with your position that sun damage is an overrated hazard. True, our forbears of a few thousand years ago didn't seem to die off of skin cancer despite considerable exposure. But their lifespan was typically measured in a few decades, and they tended to die of injuries or infections, instead of the chronic diseases we lucky moderns are blessed with. UV skin damage is gradual and cumulative; you have to live quite a while to develop skin cancer.

The association between sun exposure and skin cancers of all types has been demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. Skin cancer became epidemic in the late 20th Century. Prior to that the very idea of "sunbathing" would have been considered ludicrous. In fact, tanned skin, particularly in women, was looked upon as a marker of low socio-economic status, since it suggested outside work.

As reluctant as I am to take skin care advice from a man who describes himself as "gnarly", he may have a point regarding the toxicity of some chemical sunscreens. Long-term studies of these agents are lacking, and what data there is isn't entirely reassuring. Still ... melanoma rates and fatalities have skyrocketed in the past few decades, and it's not a good way to go. Reasonable prudence in limiting one's sun exposure is a sensible course.



Country: USA | Posts: 1026 Go to Top of Page

gnarlyoldman
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Posted - 04/28/2014 :  12:08:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Lets face it, people need sunshine. Lack of sunshine is a strong evolutionary negative. Dark skin people who move north get less sunshine than needed which results in a significantly higher death rate for dark skin people in higher latitudes. The farther north people live the higher death rate they suffer from limited sunshine, and the more white the population becomes. The high death rate from lack of sunshine causes a very rapid evolutionary response toward light skin. People quite obviously need sunshine to live healthy lives.

The other response is apparent too. People who come from populations adapted to limited sunshine in high latitudes get too much sunshine when they move toward the equator. There is a biological evolutionary reason that equatorial populations soon have very dark skin.

There are significantly higher death rates from living with more or less sunshine than your family is adapted for.

The bottom line is that we don't need and should not use sun block while living at the latitude where your family is adapted. If your skin is adapted to equatorial sunshine we should not use sun block and may consider moving closer to the equator for the best health. People who's family is adapted to high latitudes over many generations by having pale skin may need sun block if they are living closer to the equator than their family heritage.




Naked is green.



Edited by - gnarlyoldman on 04/29/2014 5:48:42 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 254 Go to Top of Page

Bill Bowser
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Posted - 04/29/2014 :  09:03:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
New study finds sun avoidance may be a risk factor for mortality

Researchers, in a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, found that avoiding sun exposure may increase the risk for all-cause mortality in women. Recently, researchers out of Sweden conducted a study on Northern European women to determine the effects of sun avoidance on health.

They looked at data from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden (MISS) study. The MISS study began in 1990 and included 29,518 women aged 25 to 64 years old. The women answered questions about risk factors for melanoma in 1990 and then again at a follow-ups in 2000 and 2011. The study aimed to compare the women’s viewpoints on risk factors for melanoma with the actual development of cancer and mortality over the 20 year period.

In the current study, the researchers looked at data of all the women from the MISS study who had no previous history of cancer or any malignancy. They looked at questionnaire responses in 1990 and again at the follow-up in 2000.

Among other lifestyle questions, the women were asked to answer four yes-no questions regarding sun exposure habits. To measure total sun exposure, the researchers scored each woman’s response by the number of times that they answered “yes” to these questions.

A score of 0 signified complete sun avoidance and a score of 4 signified the greatest amount of sun exposure.

The researchers wanted to know if avoiding the sun might affect the risk of all-cause mortality among the women.

After all data was collected and analyzed, the researchers found:

The mortality rate among women who avoided the sun was double compared to those with the highest sun exposure.
There was a dose-dependent inverse relationship between sun exposure and all-cause mortality. This means that the rate of all-cause mortality decreased with every increase in ratings of sun exposure.

The researchers concluded,

“The mortality rate was increased two-fold among avoiders of sun exposure as compared to those with the highest sun exposure habits. In this study focusing on avoidance of sun exposure, women with ‘normal’ sun exposure habits were not at significantly increased risk for malignant melanoma (MM) or of MM-related death.”

In this study, the researchers looked at women of northern European descent. Many women of this region have light skin, and therefore are more sensitive to the sun. Because the researchers only looked at northern European women, we don’t know if these results would be the same in populations of different gender or ethnicity. Furthermore, the use of a questionnaire means that we don’t know if sun exposure habits were accurately reported by the participants, and due to the observational design of the study, we don’t know for sure if higher sun exposure decreases risk of mortality.

While this study cannot confirm that sun exposure reduces risk of mortality, it is more evidence that safe, moderate sun exposure is an effective way to produce vitamin D and maintain good health.

Bill Bowser - Cincinnati

Nudists are everywhere, but they're hard to identify with their clothes on.



Country: USA | Posts: 314 Go to Top of Page

FullSun
Forum Member


Posted - 04/29/2014 :  12:11:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Just goes to show how true to old adage, "Everything in moderation is". Drinking too much water can kill you, not enough can kill you. Too much food can at least be bad for your health and not enough as well. Hiding from the sun is not natural and not what our bodies are designed for while too much sun can burn and in the extreme kill you. Sun exposure helps burn toxins from your body. Just look at what a doctor will tell you if a child has jaundice, get some sun! The marketing people went crazy with the idea of sun exposure being bad and came up with SPF 14 trillion or whatever as if that's any better than SPF 50. Seeing my lack of tan lines my doctors have even said, a tan is not bad, it's the burn and overdoing it that is bad.


Country: USA | Posts: 33 Go to Top of Page

Bill Bowser
Forum Member


Posted - 04/29/2014 :  8:18:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bill's Theory

When I was a little boy polio was a very frightening disease. Before vaccines were developed in the late 1950s many young children were paralyzed by the disease and no one seemed to understand why polio was striking down children only in the most developed countries. Years after the vaccines were produced and polio ceased being a major public health problem it was discovered that the cleanliness of modern homes in the developed countries had contributed to the problem.

In less sterile environments children are usually exposed to the virus which causes polio at a very young age, when they still have the immunity which is passed to them at birth from their mothers. When thus exposed almost all of the children display no symptoms, suffer no ill effects, and then have a lifetime immunity to the virus. If children aren't exposed to the virus until they are older they often have very serious consequences which is what was occurring in the 1950s.

I think there may be a parallel with the way we in the most developed countries deal with sun exposure. Why is it that as our society has begun to hide from the sun skin cancer rates and other skin problems resulting from sun exposure have soared? Mothers are doing everything possible to minimize their young children's sun exposure, but is that the right thing to do, or might that cause a future sensitivity to the sun leading to melanomas or other skin problems? Maybe very young children need to have more sun exposure so that their skin "learns" how to deal with it. Maybe sun exposure in young children is a good thing.

We all know about the importance of vitamin D which is produced in large quantities when the skin is exposed to the sun. Those who don't spend enough time in the sunshine have to get their vitamin D from supplements or their diet or risk serious health problems. Some researchers believe that we get other benefits from sun exposure, but the fear mongers seem to have prevailed in the debate.

I don't have any evidence to support my theory, but I'm pretty sure that sun exposure is not as dangerous as many in the medical community would have us believe. (My experience tells me that things are never as bad as the pessimists say, nor as good as the optimists proclaim.) There are still primitive people who wear very little or no clothing, living in remote places who are exposed to the tropical sun for hours every day, and I'm pretty sure they aren't all dying of skin cancer. You can be sure there is a good explanation for this. There also is a good reason why skin cancer rates have skyrocketed in the last few decades; I'm very interested to know what it is.

Bill Bowser - Cincinnati

Nudists are everywhere, but they're hard to identify with their clothes on.



Edited by - Bill Bowser on 04/29/2014 8:23:29 PM

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