Sun Tanning (Let’s get real about it!)
As you may know, we are firm believers in things that are natural. It is always a good place to begin in any discussion concerning health. It is also a good place to start in looking for balance in health issues, nutrients and when considering the “dangers” of sun tanning.
Unfortunately, it is often a discouraging discussion since there is so much mis-information that it is difficult to hear a balanced view. It’s not surprising since there is a vast amount of money involved selling products to help you be in the sun or protected from the sun.
The medical community is also tainted since there is a huge amount of money involved in medical procedures treating conditions from the sun. This promotes some misguided information of the sun’s actual involvement concerning skin cancer.
There are many cultures that have year round sun exposure and tans – without high cancer rates. Yes, centuries of adaptation have helped but there is a proper way of joining them if desired.
Let’s Start Over!
- The sun is natural!
Humanity has grown up being in the sun. The sun has always been rightfully considered a source of life. Historically, exposure to the sun was never an issue other than when overdone.
- Vitamin D.
We are increasingly becoming aware of the tremendous value of the vitamin D produced in our skin by the sun. Unfortunately, many people are becoming deficient in vitamin D – partially from over-screening from sunshine. As a result, some are experiencing sicknesses that they shouldn’t have, due to a lack of Vitamin D.
There are many people now walking in fear that they, or their children, will actually have a sun ray hit their skin. “White” skin, though unnatural, is now considered to be healthy. See anything wrong with this picture? Is this natural?
The Root of Confusion: Over-Exposure.
I have spent many years trying to find a balance regarding sun exposure. How could something so natural and healthy be so evil? I have since come to a conclusion that is simple and natural – ‘moderation in all things’.
Over-exposure is at the root of the confusion! As in most actions, overdoing it can cause problems. It is the same concerning sun exposure. In theory, a single free radical or sun ray can harm us. In reality, our skin has adapted to the sun and protects us while actually using the sun to produce healthy nutrients for our body. Some sun is very healthy.
There is even such a thing as a “healthy” suntan (though some will disinherit me for that). Much of the world lives their whole life with tanned skin – and have low cancer rates! Even considering that, there are also right and wrong ways to get a suntan!
It is the Over-Exposure of the Skin to Sun
In a Short Period of Time That Causes the Problems.
Normal brief exposure to the sun is healthy. The skin will naturally build a defense to the sun (a tan). As the skin darkens, that exposure time can lengthen. In a climate where natural sun exposure maintains year round, people’s tans remain year round and, again, no high cancer rates.
It is when the sun is allowed to hit the skin long enough to cause mild to severe sunburns that damage happens. The natural defenses of the skin are overwhelmed and skin cells and DNA can be harmed.
It is obvious to most people that sunburns, especially severe ones, are unhealthy. However, rushing into a tan can be just as unhealthy. Overdoing initial exposure to the point of redness also causes harm to the skin. To brush it off with, “It will turn into a tan” may be true but it is the wrong way to get a tan. Repeated burns early in the year, especially repeated each spring, are extremely harmful and should be avoided.
Patience is required to make a tan healthy. I know this goes against most of the anti-sun crowd who say there is no such thing as a “healthy” tan. However, nature has given us the ability to gradually build up a tan. If the initial tanning is gradual and the results maintained, the benefits of some sun exposure on the skin outweigh the negatives. (This is especially true if the person is diligent to take nutrients that fight free radicals.)
Our best to all – enjoy your summer!
(Disclaimer Warning: A wonderful light tan here in the Pacific NW has been known to
produce some scorning looks from disapproving, jealous people.)