Some sunscreens can be bad for you |

Some sunscreens can be bad for you

MARY BROOKSspecial to the daily

Well it’s that time again (on most days) when spring is in the air and we are taking off our winter clothing and exposing that lily white skin. Many of us will be going to exotic places to bathe in the warm sunshine. My family and I went to Mexico over spring break and did just that. Our flight arrived in the afternoon and we could not wait to shed our clothes and feel the warm breeze and sunshine on our skin. My son and I are pretty fair skinned, while my husband gets dark quickly. I used to get really sick if I was exposed too long in the sun, and have had many vacations ruined because of it. My son would get painfully sunburned even with using tons of sunscreen. But a few years ago, during one of our allergy treatments with Dr. Bruce Wignall, we realized that we were both allergic to radiation. Ah huh. Radiation encompasses a lot of things including the sun, microwaves, cell phones etc. We were both cleared and put the clearing to the test on one of our trips to Mexico. We were boogey boarding all afternoon in Puerto Vallarta, we both had short sleeved swim shirts on and waterproof sunscreen. When we finally emerged from the water hours later, I was horrified. I was as red as a lobster. Normally, I would have started to get stomach cramps which would have led to vomiting for 24 hours. I freaked out, took a shower immediately and put tons of aloe on my skin. Nothing happened so we decided to go out to dinner. Still nothing happened. I went to bed, and the next morning I woke up and it was tan. Amazingly enough I never peeled. Since this miraculous recovery I have been very interested in understanding the sun and the use of sunscreen. On our most recent vacation to Mexico while I was people-watching, I noticed that most people are obsessed with putting sunscreen on themselves and their kids. Some of these people I noticed slather on the sunscreen and then just sunbathe all day in the full sun and allow their kids to be in the pool for long periods of time thinking that the sunscreen is protecting them. Believe it or not, this is not good. Sunscreen can help to prevent sunburn, but then this encourages most people to stay in the sun too long – which increases their risk of melanoma. Most sunscreens are not good for you. A toxic chemical octyl methoxycinnamate or OMC is an active ingredient in most sunscreens and can cause an increased risk of disease including cancer. The body has to work to detoxify every time the sunscreen is applied. Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D for humans and not only helps with depression, illness and osteoperosis but also lowers the risk of many kinds of cancer. Limiting your exposure to prevent sunburn starting with 10 minutes a day until the melanin pigmentation that is naturally occurring in your skin is built up is a great way to eliminate the use of harmful sunscreens while reaping the benefits of the sun’s vitamins. Diet actually plays a huge part in protecting you from the sun as well. Whole vegstables and fruits that are dark in color as well as Omega 3 oils will increase antioxidants in your body which will then provide protection against any sun induced radiation damage. Avoid an overabundance of Omega 6 oils in your diet such as corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower. These oils can be found in most of the processed foods that we eat and are cancer causing when used out of balance. Eat more Omega 3 oils such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, fish oil, cod liver oil and fish. When my family and I go on our Mexico vacations here is what we do to reduce our risk of sunburn while enjoying the sun and fun. (We rarely use sunscreen). Find a shady spot at the pool or rent an umbrella to sit under at the beach. You will still get light on your skin even though you are in the shade. When in the water wear swim shirts and hats. For the first three to four days go to the pool or beach after 1:30 p.m., when the sun is not as strong. After 4 p.m. allow your skin to get direct light on it for no more than an hour. After four days, if you have not burned, start extending your time in the direct sun little by little. Make sure to drink lots of bottled water and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and fish. By the end of your trip you will have a nice tan that will not peel. And remember … have a great time! Mary Brooks writes the occasional column on healthy parenting. She can be e-mailed at

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