Healthful Mondays: Sunscreen=cancer?

With today’s big news that certain sunscreens may contain an ingredient that will actually accelerate user’s chances of cancer, every parent is frantically checking sunscreens for retinyl palmitate, a Vitamin A derivative. More than 500 of the most popular sunscreens on the market contain retinyl palmitate, meaning many have been slathering on the cancer risk instead of protecting against it.

The sun has turned into the enemy. Every year there is the development of stronger and stronger sunscreens created to prevent even the smallest amount of UV rays to damage the skin. Prolonged sun exposure has been linked to skin cancer, eye damage and premature skin aging. So, slathering on sunscreen is the solution, right? Not necessarily.

Sunscreens contain chemicals. Some chemicals aren’t great. Constantly coating your body with a layer of chemicals to protect it from sun exposure isn’t a wonderful thing. And, with new evidence from studies showing retinyl palmitate as a cancer risk, parents should be reading the ingredient list on their sunscreen, and finding other ways to protect against prolonged skin exposure.

Here’s the thing. Even the Skin Cancer Foundation has suggestions for spending time outdoors without covering the body every 20 minutes with sunscreen. Wearing hats, sunglasses and clothing with UV protection built-in is a start. UV protective clothing can be found at many outdoor stores and online. Another suggestion is to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day. Take a break from outdoor fun, have a healthy lunch as a family and enjoy a board game, like Monopoly!

The Skin Cancer Foundation also suggests applying 2 Tablespoons of sun block with an SPF of 15 or higher everyday, and to re-apply every 2 hours or after prolonged swimming. I know people who are coating their kids every 15 minutes with half a tube of SPF 70! I don’t know about you, but that seems a bit excessive.

So, check your sunscreen. If it contains retinyl palmitate, chuck it and buy a sunscreen sans the stuff. Here’s a link to a wonderful list of lovely natural sunscreens free of any nastiness!

Good Friday

On this Good Friday (which is more about celebrating friends and family than anything religious for me) I can’t seem to shake some sad feelings. Recently, a friend of mine passed away. He was an old high school friend that I had spent some time with in college, not seen for several years, and then reconnected with just in the last year or so. He died a couple of months ago from cancer.

Death sucks.

I had the privilege, and discomfort, of spending some time with him during the last couple months of his life. The worst thing was seeing this always energetic and positive young person (too young) slowly become a speck.

It super sucked.

For some reason, I just haven’t been able to shake it. Maybe it’s from seeing so many people walking around with sour looks on their faces unwilling to offer others a helping hand or even a smile. Maybe it’s from watching as others almost run pedestrians over with their cars because they are too busy and too important to stop at crosswalks. Maybe it’s from listening to others complain about their lives and how nothing seems to ever go their way when they have no problem paying their bills, tossing cash around, and getting the health care they need without a problem (HAD to add that).

I watched my friend slowly die, with grace, and not complain once. He took it as it came. He dealt with it.

It seems pretty ironic, doesn’t it?

Please stop at stop signs, help someone when they need a hand, and smile at others around you. Please call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while to let them know you are thinking of them. Please invite your neighbors over for a cocktail just because they are your neighbors. Please donate money, or food, to the local shelter if you have the ability to do so.

Life is special. Don’t waste it.