EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.
We’ll be talking a lot about ways to be sustainable this summer and I thought I’d start by talking about how to safely get out in the sun.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Top Sun Safety Tips:
- Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
- Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
- Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
- Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
- Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.
More than 2 million Americans develop skin cancer each year (NCI 2013). Half the Americans who live to 65 will be diagnosed at least once with rarely fatal forms of skin cancer called basal and squamous cell carcinomas, both linked to sun exposure.(EPA 2011)
Here are a few more tips to help you reduce your risk of getting skin cancer from the awesome folks at EWG:
- Don’t depend on sunscreen to prolong your time in the sun.
- Cover up! Hats, shirts and sunglasses are the best protection.
- Don’t get burned.
- Don’t use a tanning bed.
- Protect kids! Early-life sunburns are worse.
- Pick a sunscreen with strong UVA protection.
- Get vitamin D. Adequate levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of melanoma, and it is known to combat other cancers. Get screened for vitamin D deficiency.
- Check your skin regularly for new moles that are tender or growing. Ask your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.
Read more at EWG’s 2014 Sunscreen Guide.
We can also protect ourselves from the sun naturally by avoiding toxic chemicals in sunscreens, using natural ingredients and eating foods that protect against sun damage.
There has been an increase in awareness about the use of chemicals in personal care products and their effects. As a result, there has been more emphasis on researching natural substances. Much of the research only proves knowledge already known from generations past, but there are also very interesting new findings that prove the power of the natural world.
- Green Tea polyphenols, a substance rich in antioxidants that forms part of the green tea leaves, has been mainstream news for awhile now. Research continues to be done today for using green tea for many conditions, including sun protection. (Yusuf et al.) Green tea high in polyphenols has shown to provide internal and external protection from UV radiation and in turn, photo aging.
- Black tea gel, another ingredient more recently talked about, was studied for its absorption of ultraviolet rays. The study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science (Dec. 2007) tested exposed skin of six subjects with an artificial source of UV light. Those participants with black tea gel on their skin were unaffected by the radiation, while the subjects with nothing on their skin started seeing reddening after four hours of exposure. (Turkoglu et al)
- Broccoli extract has been studied extensively for its anti-cancerous effects as a food. A recent study has shown that applying broccoli extract topically, which is rich in an antioxidant ingredient called sulphoraphane, gave subjects protection against inflammation and redness caused by UV light. The research showed that instead of absorbing the radiation, the sulphoraphane penetrated the body and helped cells protect themselves against the damages of UV light, even three days after its application. (Talalay et al)
That is why the best kind of protection after all is what you put in your body. Foods like the ones mentioned above, like green tea and broccoli that have been proven to be anti-cancer, are a good start to add to any diet. If those are not to your liking, or you can’t get the kids to eat broccoli, maybe some pasta with tomato sauce will do. Studies have also been done on foods high in carotenoids, such as tomatoes. The research has shown that tomatoes cooked with olive oil, are said to release these carotenoids that can supply the body with some sun protection, what could be an SPF of 2 or 3. (Stahl W. et al)
It’s worth mentioning again: Above all, do not be afraid to get out in the sun. Being outdoors is healthy for you and your family, just use some common sense and smart sun protection.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
EWG’s 2014 Guide to Sunscreen at http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/.
An ideal sunscreen would block the majority of UVA and UVB rays with active ingredients that do not break down in the sun, so that the product remains effective. It would also contain only active and inactive ingredients that are proven to be completely safe for both adults and children. Unfortunately, there is no sunscreen on the U.S. market that meets all these criteria and no simple way for consumers to know how well a given product stacks up. That’s why EWG created this guide to safer and more effective sunscreens.
The Environmental Working Group’s team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers goes over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and their own laboratory tests to expose threats to our health and the environment and to find solutions. Their research “brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know”. The mission of the EWG is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.