PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM THE SUN
Skin cancer is a worldwide public health problem presently involving approximately 1,000,000 new cases each year in theUnited States alone. It is significant that the vast majority of such cases can be prevented in the future simply by reducing thepopulation’s exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR). A sensible approach to this will include proper clothing, hats,sunglasses, sun avoidance at peak hours and the use of effective sunscreens. What is an effective sunscreen? That deÞnitionhas changed over the past decade as our knowledge of the biologic effects of sunlight has advanced. Regulations governingthe labeling and formulation of sunscreens have not yet incorporated much of this new understanding. Thus, the responsibilitycurrently falls upon the health care providers and concerned manufacturers of personal care products to ensure that consumersare provided with the best information and products available.
Many of the well known sunscreen manufacturers do not level with the general population, and, in fact, knowingly do not useeither of the two FDA approved long wave UVA sunscreens. These long UVA rays are the most damaging rays andpenetrate deep into the surface of the skin. The long range harmful effects of the sun are in the long or UVA wave lengths,roughly from 340 to 400 in the UVA spectrum. Photo aging and deep cancers are almost always caused by exposure to thelong wavelengths.
The solar spectrum is divided into ranges defined by wavelengths. The wavelengths most important to we humans are theUVA and UVB. UVB is associated with much of the damage caused to humans by sun exposure. Traditionally, UVB wascredited as the sole cause of sunburn and various skin cancers. Although still considered a major cause of skin cancers, UVBis no longer thought to be the only culprit. It also seems likely that other wave-lengths in the UVA are involved in tumorformation, and perhaps, in some cases, even as the primary agent. UVA makes up about 75% of the solar UV spectrum butabout 99% of the terrestrial spectrum. This is because UVA is largely unaffected by the ozone layer. It is only prudent that anyproduct claiming sun protection address both the short and long UVA. To do otherwise, places the consumer at a significantand unnecessary risk. You must ALWAYS purchase a product that protects against the long waves of the UVA spectrum(from 340 to 400).
There are only two FDA approved UVA BROAD SPECTRUM ingredients available for sunscreen use today. One is anartificial ingredient and the other is natural Zinc Oxide. This oxide has been known to the world for thousands of years andhas been used to protect, soothe and heal the skin. It is unsurpassed as a physical barrier to the sun and other irritants, and is aCategory I skin protectant. Zinc oxide has been used in the treatment of literally hundreds of skin disorders and promoteshealthy skin by at least two mechanisms; it is an essential mineral needed for protein and DNA synthesis and it is an effectiveanti microbial.
A WORD ABOUT SPF
The SPF number tells the consumer how long it will take them to burn with as compared to without a sunscreen. This, ofcourse, assumes that the sunscreen stays on long enough to do its job. As an example, an SPF 15 applied to an individual whowould normally burn in 20 minutes will provideprotection for roughly 300 minutes, or five hours (SPF 15 x 20 minutes = 300minutes). The chart below llustrates that it is not necessary to go above a spf-15 or 20 because you get virtually no moreprotection, however, you gain the usage of a lot more concentration of chemicals.
If your sunscreen does not say “Broad Spectrum” sunscreen on the front panel it will probably not protect you from the mostdangerous rays. Your product must contain either avobenzone or Zinc Oxide to be effective. Kindly check your sunscreenbottles to be sure they are doing the job. If your label reads protects against “UVA-UVB” and does not contain either of theabove ingredients you are NOT PROTECTED from the most damaging rays of all. Using Zinc Oxide may help preventpremature aging of the skin due to long term overexposure to the sun.
The efficacy of a given sunscreen formula depends on proper application. All sun-screens, regardless of the ingredients, mustbe applied prior to exposure if they are to be maximally effective. For example, an SPF 15 applied to a person who wouldnormally burn in 20 minutes will allow that individual 300 minutes of exposure before they burn. If that person exposedthemselves to the sun for 10 minutes before applying the sun-screen then he/she would have already received 50% of their sundosage. That SPF 15 sunscreen would now only provide 150 minutes of protection instead of the 300 minutes it would have.In other words, the “safe” exposure time was reduced from 5 hours (300 minutes) to 2.5 hours (150 minutes) simply becausethey waited 10 minutes to apply the sunscreen. Whether or not any sun-screen can survive real use (swimming, sweating,towels, sand) for five hours is itself debatable. Hence, the almost universal recommendation that sunscreens be appliedliberally and often, usually every 2 hours. More frequent application is advised if swimming or engaging in strenuous physicalactivity. Always apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes prior to exposure.
It takes approximately one ounce for a single full adult body application. Most sunscreen tubes con-tain only 3 to 5 ounces,thus an average tube should last one adult one full day at the beach. I can safely say that very few people apply this muchsunscreen. It is crucial that consumers be educated on this point.
THE BOTTOM LINE AND ZINC OXIDE
Chronic effects of sun exposure include photo aging and photocarcinogenesis. Photo aging is thought to occur as a result ofchronic UVA exposure. It Is estimated that 90% of the visible changes we associate with aging are actually the result of sunexposure. Recent evidence suggests that the action spectrum for photo aging is in the far UVA region (340 nm to 400 nm).Most sunscreen actives (see chart above) do not effectively block far URA radiation. MicrophIne zinc oxide does.
Zinc oxide has an unparalleled 300 year history of safe use on all types of skin, first as a component of Calamine and then onits own in various preparations. In fact, zinc oxide is the only sunscreen active that is also an FDA recognized Skin ProteCtant.Today, zinc oxide is still widely used as a topical therapeutic. It may be the most commonly used topically applied compoundof all time. An estimated 5,000,000 pounds per year are used on people in the US alone without incident.
If your sunscreen does not say "Broad Spectrum" sunscreen on the front panel it will probably will notprotect you from the most dangerous rays. Your product must contain either avobenzone or ZincOxide to be effective. Kindly check your sunscreen bottles to be sure they are doing the job. Ifyour label reads protects against "UVA-UVB" and does not contain either of the above ingredients youare NOT PROTECTED from the most damaging rays of all. Using Zinc Oxide may help preventpremature aging of the skin due to long term overexposure to the sun.
Written by: Bruce Stephens Haughey, Doctor Hoy's Natural Botanical Skin Care Products
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