TPV Podcast, Episode 301: Sunscreen, Sun Exposure & Sunburns

Ep. 301: Sunscreen, Sun Exposure & Sunburns

In this episode, Stacy and Sarah are talking all about the pros and cons of the very sun in the sky!

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The Paleo View (TPV), Episode 301: Sunscreen, Sun Exposure & Sunburns

  • Intro (0:00)
  • News and Views (0:40)
    • This week’s podcast breaks the record for most research done on a topic for a podcast!
    • We’re hoping to give you well-rounded, consensus, and nuanced information.
      • There is a lot of science on this information, and it doesn’t always agree.
    • Shoutout to our listeners for sending wonderful supportive feedback after we asked last week!
  • Sun & Skin (12:25)
    • The background: Stacy’s family is very fair-skinned, and she is very aggressive with sunscreen use. She has looked into the safety of sunscreen- what kind of sun is good and not good, plus not adding harmful chemicals to our bodies.
    • What are risk factors for skin cancer?
      • This is the dominant motivator for wanting to protect our skin.
      • Sun exposure is a risk for skin cancer, but is different for different forms of skin cancer.
        • Melanoma: most dangerous, highest mortality rate.
          • More related to sporadic intense exposure with burns.
          • Interestingly, people tend to get this on parts of body not most-exposed to sun.
            • This probably indicated that contributing factors are more complex.
        • Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinoma are much milder and typically easier to treat.
          • The highest risk is total UV exposure, cumulative to date.
          • The more sun exposure, especially burning, the higher your chance.
      • There are other risk factors for skin cancers (and other cancers) as well:
        • Vitamin D deficiency.
        • Exposure to chemicals.
        • Having a weakened immune system.
        • Smoking.
        • Family history.
        • Fair complexion or being a red-headed.
        • Having moles increases risk of Melanoma.
      • Men are at higher risk of skin cancer than women.
      • Is it true that childhood sunburns increase your risk of skin cancer later on in life?
        • One study showed that overall there was no increase risk for melanoma.
        • There was a slight increased risk for melanoma in your 20s, but not overall in life.
      • There is a group of studies showing that sun exposure is a risk factor for skin cancer.
        • It is likely a collection of factors.
          • For example, sun exposure in the context of not getting enough antioxidants in the diet.
          • In the context of increased inflammation from chronic disease.
          • In the context of vitamin D deficiency.
          • In the context of more chemical exposure.
    • Sun Tan vs. Sun Burn
      • These are two different things, caused by two different mechanisms.
        • A sun tan is caused from melanocytes in the skin producing melanin (a dark pigment).
        • Having a lot of melanin in your skin protects from damage from the sun.
          • This is why people with darker complexions have lower risk of skin cancer.
        • Burning is really just cellular damage.
          • When you have a lot of cells dying from sun exposure, it triggers an inflammation response- which is what causes the heat/inflammation and and makes the skin so red.
          • How intense the sunlight is, and how long you were out in it versus how fair you are is the formula for a sunburn.
    • Sunscreen use related to skin cancer risk.
      • Prior to 1980 this was true, which is probably because there were a lot of chemicals used in sunscreen that have since been removed.
        • These chemicals were inert by themselves, but when exposed to the sun turned carcinogenic.
      • Currently no form of skin cancer is associated with sunscreen use.
      • There is a collection of studies that looked at prevention of skin cancer with sunscreen use.
        • These studies didn’t show a strong effect.
          • This may be because people are using sunscreens to stay out in the sun longer.
          • It may have to do with the type of sunscreen they are using.
    • Benefits of non-burning sun exposure.
      • Could people be going so overboard with sunscreen use that they are missing out on some of the benefits of sun non-burning exposure?
        • Vitamin D deficiency: 75% of Westerners are vitamin D deficient.
        • Stress relieving and circadian rhythm benefit to being out in the sun.
      • A recent article compared life expectancy of people with different sun exposure times.
        • High sun people did have an increase risk of skin cancer but lower risk of other health problems.
        • There may be benefits of sun exposure that we don’t completely understand.
    • Overview of sun exposure.
      • It is important to not get sunburned, as this increases risk of skin cancer.
      • It is better to use a sunscreen and still get sun exposure if you would otherwise burn.
      • Moderating sun exposure is important- some sun exposure is beneficial.
    • Is an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet related to reduced sunburn?
      • Our skin has natural antioxidants and protective mechanisms.
        • It is chronically being assaulted by everything in the environment.
        • It is constantly regenerating to maintain a barrier between the inside and outside of our bodies.
        • A higher plant phytochemical diet can reduce the chance of getting sun burned.
          • Astaxanthin is one of the stronger antioxidants that helps with this.
            • This is in red and purple type vegetables.
            • It is also found in seafood.
      • There are photolyase enzymes in our skin that exist to repair DNA damage.
        • These are activated by visible light, and different ones are activated by different wavelengths.
      • Our bodies are amazing and they do have ways of repairing and protecting ourselves against sun damage.
    • Sunscreen and what to look for.
      • We will get into this in greater detail next week, though we don’t want to leave you hanging right now!
      • There are two different types: chemical and physical.
        • Physical sunscreens are mineral based and reflect UV radiation.
        • Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing radiation and dissipating it as heat.
          • These are a class of chemicals that have high skin irritant and allergic reaction rates.
          • Many of these chemicals have been identified as endocrine disruptors.
          • Many of these chemicals have been associated with damaging the coral reef.
            • Hawaii recently banned chemical sunscreens for this reason.
      • We look forward to continuing this conversation next week, as well as the science of the different types of sunscreens!
      • Stacy personally looks for mineral sunscreen that is non-nano and non-aerosol.
      • Stacy uses Beautycounter, but there are a lot of great safer options available now.
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