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Slathering Sunscreen On Your Kids Is Doing More Harm Than Good

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One of the first things that any good parent understands is the need to slather your new little baby with sunscreen and keep their new, little, pink baby skin under a canopy every time you hit the beach. What kind of a monster lets a baby get a sunburn? While I’m certainly not advocating purposely burning a baby, I am advocating questioning what you’ve been told. Research suggests that vigilantly protecting your kids from the sun could actually lead to cancer in the future, instead of protecting against it.

Most of us have been led to believe that sunscreen prevents skin cancer, end of story. However, research proves otherwise:

According to a June 2014 article featured in The Independent (UK), a major study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day.

Researchers concluded that the conventional dogma, which advises avoiding the sun at all costs and slathering on sunscreen to minimize sun exposure, is doing more harm than actual good.

This is where things get interesting. The reason that total sun avoidance can be dangerous is because wearing sunscreen at all times blocks the body’s ability to produce vitamin D3 directly from the UVB rays of the sun:

In the USA, vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic levels. Ironically, vitamin D deficiency can lead to aggressive forms of skin cancer. A ground-breaking 2011 study published in Cancer Prevention Research suggests that optimal blood levels of vitamin D offers protection against sunburn and skin cancer.

The link between melanoma and sun exposure (dermatology’s dogma) is unproven. There’s no conclusive evidence that sunburns lead to cancer. There is no real proof that sunscreens protect against melanoma. There’s no proof that increased exposure to the sun increases the risk of melanoma.

A 2000 Swedish study concluded that higher rates of melanoma occurred in those who used sunscreen versus those who did not.

As a parent, and as a beach-goer, I found all of this information captivating. This doesn’t mean that I will forgo the use of sunscreen for my family altogether, but again, I always love to question what I have been told.

For some reason, the rumor has been going around, especially in parenting communities where loving parents want to protect their kids at all costs, that religiously wearing sunscreen is the only way to prevent skin cancer. But even the FDA is not willing to make that claim, “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer.” (FDA 2007)

It is important to protect your kids from excess sun exposure at the beach, but making sun the enemy is not the answer. Reducing the body’s vitamin D levels through the constant use of sunscreen, especially in young children, can cause a serious deficiency and open the door to disease. In developing children, the “sunshine vitamin” is essential to health to strengthen bones and the immune system—and reduce the risk of a number of cancers.

As a parent who wants to protect your child, what are you supposed to do? In situations like these, it’s almost as if you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Never mind the fact that we haven’t even covered the myriad of harmful chemicals found in over-the-counter sunscreens.

Dr. Mike Hart provides parents with this helpful fun-in-the-sun advice via the Huffington Post for the safe, moderate use of sunscreen, “Most modern day sunscreens have many potentially harmful ingredients that should be avoided. I recommend staying hydrated, increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids and applying micronized zinc oxide based sunscreens to protect yourself and your family from premature aging and skin cancers.”

(Image: MarKord/Shutterstock)