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Biotech Science

Sunscreen Not So Good for You? 616

j-beda writes "Don't like sunscreen? Maybe that tan is good for you. It looks like people are rethinking the common wisdom of avoiding sun exposure... "research suggests that vitamin D might help prevent 30 deaths for each one caused by skin cancer". Maybe if Kurt Vonnegut ever does address MIT grads, he will say something else..."
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Sunscreen Not So Good for You?

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  • by mikeplokta ( 223052 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @06:52AM (#12983914)
    There's also the psychological factor. Depression is common, and often fatal (not necessarily through suicide, but through self-neglect). Skin cancer is less common, and usually treatable. And sunbathing is good for depression, so might well save more lives than it costs on that basis, too.
  • And not only does the extra vitamin D help prevent cancer, but just not putting a chemical-laden substance on your body also helps prevent cancer. While I'm sure there are some safe, quality sun screens you can get at the health food store, most of what people are pouring all over them and their kids contain harsh chemicals: []

    The main chemical used in sun lotions to filter out ultraviolet light may be TOXIC, particularly when exposed to sunshine.

    Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), which is present in 90 per cent of sunscreen brands, was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses in a study by Norwegian scientists.

    It is not certain that the effects on mice are repeated in human beings, although the findings reported in New Scientist magazine suggest that human cells could be damaged if a sunscreen containing OMC penetrates the outer layer of dead skin and comes into contact with living tissue.

    Terje Christensen, a biophysicist from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, near Oslo, said her research showed that sunscreens should be treated with caution, and used only when it was impractical to stay indoors or to shield the skin from the sun with clothes.

    The chemical is used as a filter for the more harmful UVB light. In Dr Christensen's study, mouse tissue grown in culture was treated with a solution of OMC at five parts per million - a much lower concentration than in sunscreens. Half the cells treated with OMC died, compared with fewer than 10 per cent in a control experiment.

    When researchers shone a lamp for two hours to simulate midday sunshine, more cells died. Dr Christensen suggested that the reaction between OMC and sunlight created an effect that was twice as toxic as the chemical alone.

    The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association, which represents sunscreen manufacturers in Britain, said that OMC "has been thoroughly tested for safety" and was approved by regulatory authorities in Europe and the US.

    Dr. Mercola's Comment:

    We ALL need sunshine to stay healthy. It is one of the essential ingredients for staying healthy. It is not the perniciously evil item that traditional medicine suggests that it is.

    That does not mean that we should all go out and get sunburned. That should be avoided as it is likely to lead to an increase in skin cancer. However, prudent exposure to the sun, integrating the listening to your body concept, will not.

    Adding sun screens is NOT a good way to limit your sun exposure. Staying out of the sun early on in the season and limiting your exposure until your system adjusts by increasing melanin pigmentation in your skin is.

    Additionally, consuming many whole vegetables will increase antioxidant levels in the body which will also provide protection against any sun induced radiation damage.

    So the bottom line is to avoid the sun screens. They are not necessary and will actually increase your risk of disease.

    Related Articles:

    Absorbing Titanium from Sunscreens

    Sunscreens Don't Prevent Melanoma
  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:03AM (#12983942)
    In Australia, we have much higher UV levels than you do in the northern hemisphere

    Ain't that the truth!

    I've been to the UK and California (during the northern hemisphere mid-summer) and could not believe how hazy the sky was compared to Australia and NZ.

    I went from mid-winter here (NZ) to mid-summer in the northern hemisphere and (my then lilly-white body) didn't even get pink, despite spending several full days in the "blazing" sun.

    Down these parts (as the original poster said), you can get lobsterized in under half an hour through direct exposure to sunlight, any time from October through March (mid-spring to mid fall).

    What's more -- the sky is *really* blue and clear (you can even see the horizon :-) down on this part of the globe.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:18AM (#12983990) Homepage
    No. The 15 mins is the "sun fun" dose. That's the one that is considered without any effect on the skin, and that's the one where the sun protection factor is calculated from (a protection factor of 10 means: 150 min is the sun fun dose if you wear a 10 sunscreen). It hasn't too much to do with the amount of Vitamin D3 production.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- ( 624050 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:21AM (#12983998) Journal
    You assume that all people naturally can withstand 15 minutes. I burn after 5, and I live in Michigan.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:26AM (#12984014)
    Totally agree.

    Being Vegan, I have researched what is needed to maintain a healthy, energetic lifestyle. One of the facts I found was that you need at least 15 minutes of sun exposure every day (doesn't litterally have to be every day - could be 30 mins on one day none the next).
  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:27AM (#12984019) Homepage
    Now we know about how unhealthy it is to eat too much food, especially fatty, salty or artificially processed food.

    And even the old wisdom that a fatty diet is bad for you, gets challenged. It seems that your LDL/HDL Cholesterine ratio is not easily to change with a low fat diet at all (it seems to be more predetermined by your genetics), and the so called mediterran diet (with 40% of the food energy coming from fat) seems to cause the people to live longer than the usually recommended 30%-energy-from-fat diets.
  • by Paska ( 801395 ) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:43AM (#12984074) Homepage
    As much as the geek inside of my wants to say I avoid sunlight at all costs, it's actually quite the opposite.

    I've struggled with acne/pimples a little more then your average Joe Blow, after spending a lot of money on chemicals and useless washing routines I found the cheapest and easiest solution.

    Sunlight, I spend a few (moderate amounts) of time at the beach - and within 1 month of just a few hours per week at the beach, my acne was almost gone.

    Even in winter I now try to spend a few hours per month atleast in my salt water pool, it works wonders. I also drag the laptop outside every few days and just spend a few hours in the moderate sunlight so my skin gets some extra special attention.
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:11AM (#12984182) Homepage
    And even the old wisdom that a fatty diet is bad for you, gets challenged...

    There are two parts to the claim.

    Part 1 is that a very high-fat, very high-sugar diet is bad for you. Eating McDonalds every day, basically, will do terrible things to your health. Period. This we know for a fact, and has been proven many, many times.

    Part 2 is that the details of the diet. Should we have any alcohol or none? What percentage of fats to carbs should we have? People make claims about these all of the time, and unfortunately very little seems to have been born out. It seems that the body is very good at adapting to the kinds of dietary behaviors that were prevalant when the body was developing. A higher salt diet might not be a problem for a native Japanese person, but it might be for a Swede, for example. And as such most studies attempting to determine the "best" diet are just fundamentally flawed.

    The same thing was true with Sunscreen. On the one hand, we know that people sitting in tanning booths all day long to get that fresh-from-Miami look are ruining their skin. They're going to be prematurely wrinkled, and they're giving themselves a very high chance for skin cancer. So you shouldn't grossly overexpose yourself. On the other hand, the details about how much sun exposure you should get were sketchy. Because there were basically few known benefits to sun exposure, the thinking was "why not stop it all?" Of course this was wrong, in that there were benefits to sun exposure, including reduced depression rates. And now, it seems, reduction in certain types of cancer due to increased vitamin production. But either way, you still shouldn't go into the tanning salons, and if you're going to spend a full day at the beach you should still bring some SPF15 with you.

  • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:12AM (#12984187) Journal
    think the worst Christina Aguilar photo you've probably come across

    Do you imply that there's a GOOD picture of her?
  • Not graduation, though. I think it was a homecoming or something. Although it was an engineering school (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) he gave a lecture entirely on how to succeed as a writer. This included drawing the classic "plot curve" for several literary masterpieces, including Hamlet (which he drew as a straight line, claiming that there was no real build, climax or resolution) and Kafka's Metamorphosis, which he drew as a vertical line straight down (Man wakes up, sees that he's become a bug, and eventually dies.)

    Rumor on campus was that he was drunk.

  • Re:Not in Australia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:20AM (#12984210)
    As a Psoriasis sufferererer, I frequently use narrow band UVB light at home for treatments. I've also done regulard UVB in past years.

    There are studies that have gone on for over 30+ years that show Psoriasis patients who use UVB treatment frequently and responsibly do not show ANY increased risk of skin cancer when compared to the average person in day light sun.

    The study suggests that a frequent moderation of UVB (beneficial for those living with Psoriasis) is not only good for treating Psoriasis but also may suggest just what this article is talking about. And that is... modern sun exposuer creates a natural protection against the sun.

    Psoriasis patients and dermatologists have known this for years in reguards to treating Psoriasis sufferers, because the method of treatment involves steadily increasing exposure over time. Why steadily inrease exposuer? Because the skin becomes resistant to UVB.

    (This applys ot UVA as well) Generally UVB is reguarded as "safer" than UVA. UVB narrow band, is even more safer...

    All of which still cause cancer by the way. I'm not saying Skin cancer isnt a risk... It is true that exposure to the sun, frequently and under moderation... will protect you from cancer than if you had tried to avoid the sun.

    And Skin cancer while deadily in its most severe forms... is currently EXTREMELY cureable with the current drugs in studies. I've seen severe melonoma sufferers completely cleared of their skin cancer without surgery, through the use of the latest drugs in testing phases. It's quite amazing actually.

  • Re:Common sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Presidential ( 805793 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:25AM (#12984234)
    "Moderation is for monks." -Lazarus Long
  • Off-Topic!? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:26AM (#12984244)
    How the heck can this be offtopic, when the guy (who is completely unknown to me too, btw...) is mentioned in the blurb? Is the blurb offtopic too?
  • by roj3 ( 179124 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:38AM (#12984301) Homepage

    Unfortunately the article does not disclose the researcher's close dealings with the tanning salon industry []. Is the science real? Yes. Does it encourage tanning and irresponsible sun exposure? Yes. Solution: it's better to simply drink vitamin D-fortified milk & OJ.

    Let's learn something from Australia [], where 1 in 7 people get skin cancer in their lifetimes.

    /.ers would do well to look further into the hard science and get past the industry-backed FUD.

    Rather than, or in addition to, SPF lotion, wear clothing []. This brand is lightweight, well-vented and has titanium dioxide built right into the microfiber. My mom (who is sun sensitive from medication) uses them.

  • by HuguesT ( 84078 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:07AM (#12984468)
    The Slashdot blurb is misleading. The article advises moderation. I don't recall anybody in recent years saying Sun exposure in moderate amount was bad. What else is news ?

    Remember that while normally very rare, melanoma is the 4th most frequently diagnosed type of cancer in Australia, and rising.

    Even if people there stopped going outside right now the incidence would probably continue to rise for many years, because of the delayed exposure.

    It is highly curable but not good for you.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EndingPop ( 827718 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:23AM (#12984575) Homepage
    "...And the only thing we've come up with to deal with the fact that we have no ozone layer, is sunblock. And I don't trust that stuff at all.

    Have you ever read the ingredients in sunblock? I've never seen those words anywhere. We don't even know what this stuff is and we slap it on our face. And I guarantee in 10 years you're going to go to the doctor and he's going to look at your chart and go 'look at your's out of control.' And you'll go 'but doc, I've been eating all the right things.' And he'll say, 'were you using sunblock regularly?' And you'll go 'of course.' And he'll go 'that's your problem.' You could've eaten all the sausage you wanted.'

    Why do we trust sunblock? The people who told us about sunblock are the same people that when I was a kid said eggs were good. And then they said eggs were bad. And then they said they were good...then said they were bad...then, they actually said that the yellows were bad...the whites were....MAKE UP YOUR MIND! It's breakfast, we gotta eat!

    I'll tell you what I like to use. What I find really works. Crisco. There's no Crisco 1, Crisco 9, Crisco 75. No, it's just Crisco. You never get burnt with Crisco. Why? Because when you start to sizzle, you move your ass." -Lewis Black
  • by CountryGeek ( 35546 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:29AM (#12984619) Homepage
    I am not a doctor! This is not medical advice, simply my experiences.

    I am Type II diabetic. Radically different disease than Type I (insulin dependant), but that's another matter.

    I've had some trouble over the past couple of years controlling my blood sugar levels. A few weeks ago, I went on a 1 week camping vacation to the gulf coast, and my blood sugar control was *excellent*. Once I returned home (and back to work), I regressed back to my previous moderately high sugar levels.

    I tried a week of moderate activity the first week back, to try and reclaim the control I had during vacation. No luck.

    The following weekend, a friend of mine and I took our kids to a local state park for some paddle boating and canoeing. When I returned home that evening, my blood sugar had returned to the good levels (~100).

    The following week (last week), I spend 45m x 1hr in the sun at noon, with sunscreen only on the high sun parts. My blood sugar was in control the whole week.

    Once I found that the sun *seems* to be a factor in my blood sugar control, I was able to explain other stretches of proper control in my diabetic life.

    So, I plan to continue this experiment until my next visit to my endocrinologist (about a month). I haven't burned yet. Google vitamin D and diabetes - this is not the first article to extol the value of getting some sun.

    I'm sure there's no big drug company doing research into the benefits of getting some sun for diabetics. Maybe some real estate companies in Florida should fund some research.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deeze ( 854182 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @10:16AM (#12984981)
    I care nothing about the shallow ones that are all about vanity, but if you work outside you're going to have a tan, and likely be physically stronger also. I'm a female, I get tan by playing outside (yes, adults can play too). I like to swim, explore waterfalls and streams, fly stunt kites and RC planes and helicopters. I also have a house, so yardwork and gardening is a part of that. The daystar is not to be feared, but to be respected. My man is very fair skinned and works inside, but I do appreciate the looks of some of my friends that work outside and have deep tans because of it. It certainly does not look "unnatural".
  • by Cronopios ( 313338 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @10:21AM (#12985026) Homepage Journal
    would like to point out that other animals may not drink milk after infancy, but they do eat organ meat, entrails, eyeballs, and all sorts of other nutrient-rich animal parts that we tend to discard, these days--including partially digested food in the animal's intestinal tract. Maybe you'd prefer eating tripe to drinking milk?
    In the event of you ever coming to Spain, you could taste the madejas (lamb intestines with oil, garlic and parsley), callos (tripes), morcillas (black pudding made of pork blood) and many other dishes of our delicious traditional cuisine.

    On the other hand, adult humans don't NEED dairy products, as lots of vegans know.

  • Re:Common sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sugar and acid ( 88555 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:10AM (#12985455)
    You are right, BCC's do not usually spread and are not usally fatal, but they also do not stop growing. Left untreated they can do significant damage to nearby structures, like cave in the nose or something or simply effect a large area of skin. If the cancer gets to that point it can still be cut out, but the damage and scarring will be very large compared to the minor scar that will be left if it is cut out early.
  • by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:16AM (#12985504)
    Please, learn the world outside urban legends...
    reiterating that old lemming myth doesn make you look smart, you know?
  • Re:Not in Australia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by djmurdoch ( 306849 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:35AM (#12985666)
    The only difference between northern climates and australia is that the southern hemisphere has a lower ozone density [] zone.htm

    Hmm? That web page makes no such claim.

    The claim might be true, but things are complicated. See here [] for recent measurements and here [] for what it was like in January.

    I suspect the actual cause of the high skin cancer rate is really a combination of all of the factors: population that is mostly northern European, not adapted to the sun; low latitudes; higher insolation in the summer due to perihelion; low ozone levels; nice weather; nice beaches. They just seem to have lucked out in all the categories.
  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:47AM (#12985782)
    The ability for humans to drink milk is, as you pointed out, a mutation. You're not supposed to be able to tolerate it, and those who are "lactose intolerant" like myself are, amusingly, the "normal" ones. Your body is supposed to reject milk after infancy.

    There are some benefits of drinking milk, but there are a lot of disadvantages. The aforementioned growth hormones are real, and milk is also pretty fatty.
  • by SuperQ ( 431 ) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @12:17PM (#12986098) Homepage
    I get my dairy from a local co-op, not simply because I want to avoid the horemones and things.. (this can be had from normal stores in MN) The local farm milk is pasturized slowly, and not homogonized. It simply tastes better, the skim milk is very good, and not just white colored water.
  • Re:Common sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @02:11PM (#12987184) Homepage Journal
    Invertebrates also use cholesterol, partly to keep things flowing in cold water. Shrimp are famously high in cholesterol.

    Land-based invertebrates, on the other hand, don't need the cholesterol to keep things flowing. So bugs are low in cholesterol. If that is good news for your diet, well, let's just say I don't have any recipes for you.
  • And Oddment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:58PM (#12989979) Homepage Journal
    To give one coutner tweak, not to refute your post's valid points, but to point out something of the scientifically valid but largely lost, "ought not" position.

    There is a ["strongly suspected"] link between consumption of cow milk and late onset adult diabities (sp?). The mother-to-child antibody/antigen process now understood to be implicit in mamal milk seems to produce an immune response in humans that is nearly identical to the autoimmune response that has been linked with the distruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

    So there is some basis to believe that consuming a lot of cow milk over the course of a lifetime may increase your risk of developing adult-onset diabiates.

    So while I agree that milk consumption has made the survival of various clutures possible, and it is probably one of those double-edged things. If you _can_ avoid it, or at least moderate it, you probably _should_.

    As for the rest, I am not so much concerned, as an adult, with the presence of hormones or antibiotics in my food as I am about what the antibiotics are doing "out in the field". In particular the continuous sheding into the soil of the antibiotics and partially resistent intestinal flora/fauna via cow dung provides the ideal low continuous dossage exposure necessary to produce an optimal yiled of resistent bacteria. Since they now know that bacteria can directly communicate that resistence to other unrelated bacteria. The dairy farm (and actually probably the pig and chicken farms as well) has become probable wellspring of harmless but highly resistent bacteria that may then be capable of turning very harmful, but not previously exposed, bacteria into super-pathogens.

    The mis-management of antibotics world-wide in the twentith century is probably the greatest slient crime against humanity of that (this) era.

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