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!

Healthful Mondays – Fun in the sun!

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

No matter where you live there are tons of fantastic beaches, rivers, streams, ponds or pools to visit when the sun is shining. Playing in the sun, and the water, is absolutely fantastic. The thing is  you want to protect your baby from the sun but also let her have a bit of exposure. The sun provides us with essential vitamin D, which boosts our immune system along with making us feel good. Not letting babe (and yourself) get some rays can lead to depression, or in extreme cases, rickets.

Being a new mom, I’m concerned about sun exposure with my young baby’s skin along with keeping her safe.  I’m not just worried about a doozy of a sunburn, but a reaction from the sunscreen I might use.  Experts say that brief exposure to the full on sun isn’t going to directly lead to skin cancer, but I want to make sure she is properly protected during long summer days at the beach. I have also had my fair share of bumpy, itchy rashes from experiments with skin lotions and would hate to have the same happen with my little one.

I picked up a couple of brands of sunscreen and found California Baby Sunscreen to be awesome with Sweetsation Therapy’s Sun ‘n’ Fun Organic Baby Sunscreen great, too.  Both products can be ordered online or found at baby stores. Neither gave my babe (or me) any funky reactions after spot testing on our legs, so we were ready for prolonged sun exposure.

Along with sunscreen, I picked up a sun hat, an umbrella, and a nice beach blanket.  I wanted to be prepared for our first time at the beach.  I slathered her up, packed the bag, and set off.

I figured we would last maybe a half hour at the beach, but it turned into a full afternoon of fun in the sun and cold  toes in the ocean.  It was my daughter’s first time dipping into the sea and she was a true trooper.  The sand was exciting, the sun was warm, and the water was wonderful.  The day was a complete success!  She slept the entire way home.

What’s your favorite baby sunscreen and must have fun in the sun items?