Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Balancing Sun Exposure with Sun-o-phobia

June 13th, 2013 · 88 Comments · Food for Thought

3 at beach

Don’t you feel horrible when your kids get a little pink from the sun?

It’s a difficult balance to strike, wanting them to get Vitamin D from the sun and also be protected from the harmful effects of the same darn sun.

Sometimes I forget that I’m not afraid of sunscreen itself anymore, and I should slather it on a little more liberally. My 4yo (whoops, 5yo! Happy Birthday, little girl!) wore a borrowed bathing suit this week and had more back skin exposed than usual, and although I thought I had gotten it well, it wasn’t quite good enough for the very liberal dose of noonday sun we got.

Her sunburn didn’t hurt her, but it made me feel awful – because I know it might hurt her later.

It also made me think more about common sense and sun exposure. Even with last week’s sunscreen safety post, we still have a few issues to explore.

Here’s a conversation I was drawn into at Jo-Lynne’s post about sun safety:

Hmmm, I have mixed feelings on this post. I have worked in Dermatology Research at the VA Medical Center with the Chief of Dermatology for more than 15 years and preach regularly about sunscreen use. I am not aware of any true clinical research to support the whole “chemical sunscreens cause cancer” theory. Also, by stating that sunscreens may cause cancer could lead to people not using it all which puts you at a much higher risk of skin cancer. Also, a base tan is NOT protection from the sun. A base tan is sun damage. That fact is indisputable. I respect everyone’s opinion and to each his/her own.

Kim

My response:

Kim,
I’m the gal who tested out the 28 (now 43 actually) sunscreens that Jo-Lynne linked to in this post, and I’ve written quite a bit on sunscreen. I hope you don’t mind me jumping in too.

I think you make a really good point about people ending up feeling almost afraid of sunscreen and then not putting it on enough and getting burned. Finding the balance between getting some sun exposure for the Vitamin D benefits and getting the sunscreen on is tricky, so I can even see that result in our own family sometimes.  I hate that feeling of, “Arg, I waited too long to put on sunscreen and they’re looking pink!!” when I look at my kids (happened today in fact, sigh). I give myself the “bad mom award.”

I’m surprised to hear that you’ve never come across any research that sunscreen causes cancer. I feel like oxybenzone in particular is pretty well established as toxic. Heather Dessinger does even better research than I do generally – do you see anything substantiated over here:  www.mommypotamus.com/many-healthy-sunscreens-accelerate-skin-aging/ or here: http://www.mommypotamus.com/wait-what-sunlight-prevents-cancer/ ?

I was just reading somewhere about how the production of melanin offers protection for the skin from the sun, i.e. the base tan theory. I wish I could remember exactly  where.

Ultimately, I have a lot of questions about the theories that (a) sunlight causes cancer and (b) sunscreen prevents cancer. My neighbor and I were talking, and just common sense wise, why is it that so many people get their skin cancer in areas that aren’t really exposed to the sun (buttocks, for example) and plenty of people DON’T get skin cancer on places like their nose, even if, like my neighbor, they never wore sunscreen as a kid and got burned and peeling every summer, all summer long? I know that’s just anecdotal, but I’d love to hear the dermatology response, because I’m sure there’s information I just don’t understand about that.

The statistics on skin cancer have not really decreased as sunscreen use has increased, which I suppose could simply mean that a lot of people are now seeing the consequences of former poor sun exposure practices – is that the general dermatology theory? That it was too late for folks who damaged their skin long ago?

I’m curious – what active ingredients do you counsel patients to look for in sunscreen? And what is the best way to get our necessary Vitamin D from the sun? Are there certain times of day that are good or bad, can Vit D get through sunscreen at all, and how many minutes of sunlight do people need?

I’m not trying to be lippy or oppositional; I just really want to understand all the sides of the issue, and I think it’s wonderful that Jo-Lynne has a visitor with real clinical knowledge. Feel free to point me to journal articles demonstrating research that sunscreens prevent cancer, etc.

Thank you so much for your time and knowledge!

:) Katie Kimball

When I turn on my common sense, I just can’t believe that we should be protected by sunscreen 100% of the time:

  • Research has proven that the BEST way for our bodies to get Vitamin D is to synthesize it from the sun. We NEED the sun.
  • Although I realize that a fallen world has made the sun’s rays more harmful, I still can’t believe that God would make it so complicated to be safe outside.
  • I’ve even read that Dr. Mercola recommends people NOT be outside before 10 and after 4, the usual hours when folks feel safe, because the sun’s angle causes more cancer even though no burns. I don’t buy it. I believe God would create a system that makes sense, like the warning sign of a burn telling people that they’re doing something harmful to their skin.

I’m really hoping “Kim” will respond, and I’m looking forward to learning more answers to my questions, especially the one about skin cancer showing up in places that people don’t get sun exposure.

My common sense solution?

  • Get some sunshine without anything on your skin.
  • Wear natural mineral sunscreen the rest of the time or cover up or get inside.
  • Do NOT use any chemical sunscreens; read up on sun safety and the science behind these things.
  • Don’t stress out about it.
  • Get plenty of antioxidants on your skin and in your body to combat all the effects of both the sun and sunscreen.
  • If you get a little pink, use a lotion with antioxidants, virgin coconut oil, and soothing properties like aloe or essential oils.

One reader commented that when she stopped wearing sunglasses, her Vitamin D levels finally increased to a normal level. This is something I want to know more about! I’ve read in a few places that sunglasses aren’t actually good for us, and I’ve mostly stopped wearing them (partly because they’re either lost or too dirty to do me any good anyway).

The information coming at you about sun exposure and sun protection are going to change every year, I guarantee that.

Your strategy needs to be one of gathering facts, remembering that the natural world does have patterns and rules, and using your common sense ALWAYS.

Now we’re off to the zoo, all day in the sun.

We’re wearing sunscreen and hats. Have a great day!

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88 Comments so far ↓

  • Christy S. Lube

    I wear sunglasses because the glare and squinting gives me a headache… lol.

    I do have a couple of questions, on behalf of my husband mostly. He is a cyclist, and often his bike rides last much longer than 2 hours at a time. He is very limited in what he can carry while he rides, and this consists of water and food, and necessities for repairs should something go wrong with the bike. He doesn’t have extra space for sunscreen in order to reapply it. He bought some yesterday that is zinc/titanium oxide based instead of chemical, but it still says you must reapply every 2 hours. Is he better off not using any, rather than still being out on the bike when it “wears off” or soaks in or whatever?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Christy,
    I’m so sorry I missed your question…I remember reading it, and I guess I thought about my response enough that I thought I had already typed it in! I would totally still wear the zinc sunscreen, if it were me. That sits on the surface of the skin rather than sinking in, so it doesn’t have the effect I described in the earlier post this summer. I reviewed some “sun sleeves” a few years ago that some folks said were perfect for bikers. They’re like a little bathing suit material that is just sleeves, so you can wear them w/o adding too much weight to your load, either when they’re on (to make you hot) or if you take them off and tuck them somewhere. That would be one other option, or maybe getting sample sizes from somewhere that would be just a flat little package, to reapply? Ultimately, if he’s not burning during his ride, that’s a good sign…but still using it at least once is a good idea!

    I hope that helps bring some perspective to the question, and I’m sorry again that I never actually replied! :) Katie

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  • Kat Davis

    That’s interesting about sunglasses! I heard (and have nothing but stories) that cataract levels in Honduras are higher because no one wears sun glasses. So, it may be another tricky balance? Or maybe stories aren’t reliable? :)

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    kelkel Reply:

    I’ve heard a similar thing about muslim women who veil their faces having fewer cataracts. Would be interesting to know if there is any true science behind that claim as well…

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  • Liz F.

    These videos from Ann Louise Gittleman finally got me to get serious about reducing our sunscreen exposure and being generally smarter about the sun. I’m attaching only the first of a 3 part series, you’ll see the others if you watch this one. Also, my husband has had two areas of squamous cell carcinoma removed from areas of his body that would rarely see the sun. He’s also had more precancerous spots burned off his face, hands, arms, etc… than I can count. He’s only 56. His younger sister has had to have multiple surgeries to remove cancerous areas from on and around her nose. Both of them are fair, freckled, reddish hair, and while they did not grow up wearing sunscreen they both have learned to apply it liberally in their adult lives. It’s so hard for me to make sense of what is right in light of their experiences.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpQdNA2XpIQ

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  • Tiffany

    I know a lot of doctors will say that people get skin cancer in places like buttocks and in between their toes and fingers, because they don’t normally put sunscreen there.
    I let my family play outside without sunscreen for most of the day, and we use mineral sunscreen anytime that we are going to be outside for a couple of hours in our bathing suits, etc. But I wish more parents would cover up their little ones with protective clothing while they are playing outside at pools and splash parks. To me it is just common sense that neither mineral or chemical sunscreens can protect us enough when we are outside for long periods of time.

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  • Jeannie

    While was I was going to college a couple years back, my professor told me that you only need to be exposed to the sun for 15 mins for your body to turn the cholesterol in your skin to vitamin D. This was in California where the sun feels much hotter than here in MI. In CA I would burn in two secs. But here in Muskegon I hardly burn at all so I don’t know if the amount of time varies due to where you are in relation to the sun.

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  • Frecklpwr

    This title caught my eye because I DID get skin cancer on my nose in my twenties and had to have piece of my nose the size of a pencil eraser removed. My father has had dozens of lesions removed from his scalp and forearms. These all make quite a bit of sense to me since we both have had far too much sun exposure due to where we live and our jobs/lifestyles. I no longer wear chemical sunscreens but do use even the physical blockers sparingly. I am just very conscious of covering up, wearing hats and seeking out shade when I know I have had my daily dose of sun.

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  • 'Becca

    I actually have the opposite experience from Christy: Wearing sunglasses gives me a headache because of the contrast between the dimness in most of my visual field and the brightness at the edges. I am prone to visual-aura migraines, and I think that’s why I’m sensitive to any bright/dark contrast.

    I’ve noticed that I sunburn less easily since I have improved my diet, reducing cheap vegetable oils and white flour and refined sugar. Thinking back on it, when I was a little girl and my mom made a lot of healthy food, I don’t remember getting sunburned–it started in elementary school as I was beginning to eat more of a Standard American Diet due to school lunches and my mom being more busy and allowing more convenience foods into our home. Has anyone else noticed a correlation between diet and sunburn?

    My family doesn’t use sunscreen in our normal daily lives. We wear floppy hats, and if we have an unplanned long stint outdoors (for example, waiting for a bus that’s late) we go into the shade. Even when my son was a baby, he did not burn from daily sun exposure–although we are approximately the second-lightest shade of people (judging by makeup colors!). At times when we expect to be out in the sun a lot, especially if we’ll be exposing body parts that are usually covered (like at the pool), we use natural mineral sunscreen.

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    donna Reply:

    Becca, I ave noticed the same correlation beween diet and sunburn. I have always been extremely pale (lightest make-up shades were often dark on me). I would always burn to bright red even with only 10-15 mins of sun exposure, then heal to bright white again. I have noticed this year thaty after about a year of a cleaner diet, I have started to tan. It’s very odd to me that my make-up is now too light! The only change has been my diet.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    ‘Becca and Donna,
    You know, I didn’t even REALIZE it until you mentioned tanning, Donna, but my husband, as light-skinned and freckled as they come, has gotten an actual TAN for the first time in his life this summer, and his diet is really cleaning up more than ever since he cut soda pop completely last February (16 mos. ago). Wow…Cool.
    :) Katie

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    'Becca Reply:

    Hey, Sunday’s issue of Parade (that magazine in the Sunday paper, about as mainstream as you can get) has an article about how your diet can protect your skin! Not that it cites sources, or anything….

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    So cool!

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    Sheila Reply:

    Whoa! I also have started to tan a bit in the past few years. Only a little, but it’s there! I thought it was because I’d taken up gardening. I, too, am extremely pale usually, with blond hair. Maybe that “diet is protective” thing really has something to it.

    My kids are three and one and have worn sunscreen maybe twice. But they are outside daily, year-round (we live in VA, so that means braving both very hot and very cold temps!) and seem to have a good sense of when they are getting too much sun. If I am making them stay out, like at the beach or on a walk, we wear hats. Neither one has ever had a noticeable burn! They are 1/4 Hispanic, but you wouldn’t know it to look at them. Their dad never burns either.

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    notAnn Reply:

    I, too, get headaches from bright sun and wear sunglasses. However, I wear the SolarShield type, which wrap around so that the brightness from the side is also blocked. They look stupid but they fit over my regular glasses, and I’m too old to worry about my looks anyway!

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  • chuck

    now there is evidence that sun exposure not only raises Vit D levels but it also raises Nitric Oxide levels. this is a compound that helps with healthy blood flow throughout the body and decreases blood pressure.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1PQ_6NIqW8

    my opinion is dermatologists cannot see the forest from the trees. intuitively, it is natural to exposed to sun without sunscreen. man did it for millions of years. i suspect we are evolved to acclimate to exposure if we are treating ourselves well otherwise.

    people with a tan tend to look healthier. i suspect this opinion is shared by most. this opinion may be ingrained in us through natural selection. the pale skinned people would not be attractive as a partner because they were most likely staying sheltered because they were not capable of getting outside and contributing via hunting/gathering. who would want a partner who could not help outside in any way? would they be good breeding stock?

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    Nancy Reply:

    In the 1920s. Many Europeans and Americans considered pale skin a mark of wealth and leisure until the early 20th century. Around that time, doctors began to prescribe sunbathing for a variety of ailments, most notably tuberculosis, which was the second-leading cause of death in the United States in 1900. Wealthy sufferers loaded up their trunks and headed for sanatoriums, where they did little other than lie out on chaise lounges. As the sun gained currency as a medication, monied Europeans flocked to resorts on the French Riviera. If there was a single person responsible for popularizing the tan, it was Coco Chanel, who bronzed herself on a yacht in the Mediterranean and declared in 1929, “A girl simply has to be tanned.” It didn’t take long for celebrity males to pick up the trend. Hollywood icon Cary Grant actively worked on his tan.

    UV radiation (i.e. the sun) is a known carcinogen. To think any differently is misinformed and naive. As a person in my 30′s with a recent diagnosis of melanoma, I guarantee I would rather be pale than die from skin cancer. Tan skin is damaged skin. Cell damage perpetuates further cell damage. It’s simple science.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie

    Some of it has to do with location, location, location! I burned easily and harshly as a child in Albuquerque (high altitude desert) but almost never burn since I moved to Tulsa (sea level, humid), even though when I first moved here it was for college and I had the worst of all diets–I practically lived off the vending machines, lol.

    The eyes are another controversy, Katie! Opthamalogists will tell you you need to wear sunglasses because sun exposure increases eye cancer risk. Anecdotally, I know more than one person who blames sun for eye issues. Personally, my pale blue eyes are so light sensitive I wear sunglasses even when it’s cloudy out because I’m squinting. People with dark eyes seem not to have the same problem.

    On the other hand, I can see in the dark like a cat. ;-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    chuck Reply:

    i used to squint like crazy and was very light sensitive. i made a conscious decision to stop wearing sunglasses and my eyes quickly adjusted. i have no problem now.

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    Katie Reply:

    I’m glad that worked for you if that’s what you want, but that’s not the case for me.

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    Rebecca Reply:

    I never used to wear sunglasses, but started wearing them a few years ago, and they really help me. I don’t wear them constantly,but definitely in bright sun or near the water. It keeps me from getting headaches. I have fair skin and light blue eyes also.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    I get headaches without them, too, and frankly, I don’t see any reason to make my eyes *hurt* just because someone else thinks I need more Vitamin D–especially when I know other people who are told that not wearing sunglasses is why they have eye cancer.

    I’m rarely near water, but I find that streets have a similar effect, reflecting and strengthening sun. I can go without sunnies in my backyard more easily than while driving or out on the street. I also wear prescription glasses and I have wondered if that effects the light sensitivity of my eyes, as well, by maybe refracting the light and making it stronger? It’s hard to tell because I am blind as a bat without them.

    Also: no one has mentioned the fact that sunnies are adorable and that is definitely a consideration. ;-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Agreed! ;)

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Oh good, another controversy…sigh…figures. *throws up hands in disgust* Perhaps I should clean my sunglasses and split my time 50/50. ;) Katie

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    Katie Reply:

    Just use your common sense, Katie! ;-) If you feel like sunglasses are helpful or good to be wearing (and think you get plenty of Vitamin D already), wear them. If you feel like they’re not (and you don’t believe the eye cancer/glaucoma connection), then don’t!

    Sooooo easy, right?

    In Michigan it probably doesn’t matter that much either way. The sun isn’t that strong there. But if you were closer to the equator or at a higher altitude, I would say definitely go with sunglasses because you’re probably getting plenty of Vitamin D through your skin, and the harsher sun is more likely to cause problems. If you think of the creation connection, there’s a reason God made all us white folks from the frozen north with its weak sun have pale skin and eyes, and all the folks from the equator have dark skin and eyes. So if you’re living in a place your skin isn’t naturally suited for living, you probably want to take some extra steps to protect yourself.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Good call about the location…

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    Sheila Reply:

    In the same way, people with dark skin are at higher risk for D deficiency here in America. My own skin was custom-made for the British Isles, so I have to be more careful than others. (Interestingly, those cold northern regions also have traditional diets that are heavy on fish!)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie

    I really can’t take a supposedly somewhat “scientific” blog article seriously when you start saying that GOD would make it so, or not make it so. Seriously?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Katie,
    Thanks for your honest response. Kitchen Stewardship is a blog with the mission of balancing health, environment, budget, and time, through the eyes of faith – believing that all those things are gifts from God, which I want to be a good steward of. God is inseparable from science, in my perspective, since He created the natural world. So yes, I write about science, but I put my trust in God in the end. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joanna Reply:

    Great response, Katie! Science is the revelation of God’s creation and will always align with what His Word says. But it’s ever changing which is why we shouldn’t place our faith in science without an understanding of its humble nature. :-) Otherwise we build our house on shifting sands. Keep up the good work!

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    Kelly Reply:

    Amen sister!

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    Amanda Reply:

    Fantastically worded Katie. I, as well, don’t believe that you can separate God and science.

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  • Amanda

    Thanks again Katie!! For the last several years I have only put sunblock on my kids when we are outside for long periods of time, or in the water. Most of the time, they go outside w/o sunscreen because I believe that as God’s creation, it is a lot better than chemicals.

    That being said, even with no or little sunblock, my 8 YO son is still vitamin D deficient. By a long shot. Our naturopath suggested that it has something to do with our northern lattitude. Apparently she was researching something (because many of her patients are Vit D deficient – even at the end of summer) that there is something in the way the sun shines in these northern areas that don’t allow as much of whatever to be absorbed by our body. I don’t know, but it’s a fascinating thought. That even in an area with 300+ sunny days a year, we still can’t absorb enough Vitamin D.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yes, I’ve heard that, too – we live in Michigan. Such a pity! Nothing easy with natural living…or just healthy living! Katie

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  • Julie @ Seeking The Old Paths

    I’m with you on the God part, Katie.

    So he created us to need vitamin D, then arranged it so that getting said vitamin D would give us skin cancer? I’m not buying it.

    Whenever something like this comes up (making created design seem flawed) I default to, “There’s information that we’re missing.”

    [Reply to this comment]

    'Becca Reply:

    While I understand what you’re saying, I have to point out that this is the same God who gave us a taste for sugar but also gave us teeth that rot when exposed to excessive sugar and inadequate cleaning. Many things can harm us if used immoderately. Some of them have become more harmful because of human tinkering–for example, our sun is more harmful because we damaged our atmosphere, and naturally occurring sugars refined into super-sugars are more harmful to our teeth.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Rebecca C Reply:

    To everything good that God has created there is often a not so good counterpart created by “someone” else. I think you have to think of things that way to separate the good from the bad. The natural sweetener good in some amounts, the white refined sugar not so good. I think this principle can be applied to everything, including the sunshine/vitamin D/cancer issue.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rebecca

    I am a red-head with fair skin, so technically I should be panicking about sun exposure. Honestly, I really don’t. If I’m going to be out in the sun for a long time, I put on sunscreen (I try to use natural sunscreen now, because I don’t like the idea of toxins on my skin). Otherwise, if I’m just taking half hour walk, I don’t do anything. My 2 1/2 year old has skin that tans so I only put sunscreen on him if he’ll be in the direct sun (like the beach) for a while. We just wear hats to protect our faces and ears.

    I thought I read somewhere that if your internal vitamin D levels are optimized, that you are less likely to get skin cancer from sun exposure?

    I can’t see the use of stressing out about getting a tiny bit pink here and there from the sun. Like you said, God created people and created the sun and I’m sure He knew the two would come together :-) Not to mention we live in the deep woods of Maine, where summers are about 3 weeks long, on average, so any rare rays of warm sun are to be embraced while they last.

    Maybe my philosophy is right, and maybe it’s wrong. Time will tell :-) Meanwhile, at least I’m relaxed about it. After all, lots of stress in your life over time might cause cancer too ;-)

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  • Kelly

    Wow, light bulb! I use sunglasses EVERY time I step outside, because my eyes are very sensitive. I also have low vitamin D even though I don’t avoid sun. I never knew about that connection!

    Problem is, I have macular degeneration on both sides of my family, and the recommendation is to use sunglasses religiously. What to do?

    If anybody has any information about this, I’d like to hear it.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kelly,
    I don’t know much…seriously…but I remember seeing somewhere that your eyeLIDS actually absorb Vit D pretty well. What if you laid down with your eyes closed for 10 minutes? It’s an experiment that wouldn’t hurt…especially if you need a break anyway. ;) Katie

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  • Lark

    Have you heard of this sungazing thing? Here is a link. It talks about conditioning eyes. It is extreme and I don’t know much about it, but perhaps it has some answers to the sunglasses issue. http://www.steadyhealth.com/articles/Staring_At_The_Sun___Sungazing_a841.html

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  • shannon

    My eyes have been very sensitive to light for many years now. I wear sunglasses outside nearly all the time. I feel addicted to them almost as I’ve tried to even wean myself off of them but can’t. I am certain I noticed a difference in light sensitivity after completing a round of Accutane. I was a teenager and could immediately tell something was wrong with exposure to sunlight after completing the Accutane. Anyway, I would like to wear sunglasses a little less.

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  • Casey

    Katie,
    Do you know much about the balancing act between vitamin D, vitamin F, and Calcium?Heres an article that goes into it a little bit, but probably a more thorough search on the web would provide even better info.

    http://www.healthandchiropractic.com/chcc-articles/restless-leg-syndrome/summer-calcium-and-vitamin-f

    I know of this because years ago my mom went to a wellness conference in Hawaii and happened to show up to the conference with a sunburn. One of the speakers explained that she needed more vitamin F and Calcium to help the body use the sunshine (vitamin D), and recommended she take some supplements right then and there (Standard Process brand Cataplex F and Calcium Lactate) to balance things out. Sure enough by the time she walked out of the conference her skin was hardly pink at all. Since then when we know we’re going to be in the sun we take some calcium and some vit F to ward off burns and have found it very effective.
    If supplements aren’t your thing, calcium is plentiful in so many whole foods (like raw milk and cheese) as well as vitamin F, also known as (Essential Fatty Acid) like fish, nuts, and CLO.
    Sorry for the long post, I hope the info is helpful!

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    Zsofia Reply:

    I found your comment to be very helpful. Thank you!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Casey,
    Wow! I’ve never even heard of Vitamin F, period. Wild. We eat a lot of cheese, milk and nuts – my husband has particularly increased his consumption of those foods in the last year – so maybe that’s the key to him finally tanning instead of burning! So many awesome things to learn…

    Thank you! :) Katie

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  • Heather via Facebook

    So many aspects of God are JUST as faith based as belief in God. Have I seen God – no. But scientists who believe in the Big Bang theory, birth or death of stars, evolution etc. have never seen those things either. Belief in God does not mean one cannot be scientific. Science is the understanding of how things work and who better to help understand them than the creator of it all!

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    'Becca Reply:

    That is a great way of putting it! A few years bsck, I realized that for me, believing in the Resurrection is no more faith-based than believing everything is made of atoms. it’s a matter of trusting the sources that tell me it’s true and my own reasoning.

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  • Deborah via Facebook

    God is the creator of Science, and through Science we discover so many interesting things about Him! In fact, one of the great motivators of scientific discovery was the theological thought that God was a God of order and had set things up in such a way to be discovered. The Soul of Science by Nancy Pearcey is a great read about this type of thing!

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  • Holly via Facebook

    Well put Katie! I love your perspective!

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  • Cheryl via Facebook

    Great answer! People should really read up on what a blog is about before commenting. You’re not the only blogger whose reply to a commenter was basically, “Read the ‘About Me’ section, and you’ll know why I said [insert statement here].”

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  • Barbara via Facebook

    Your reply was well said, Katie. Kitchen Stewardship is clearly about the balance between faith and temporal life. In fact, it was what attracted me to your blog in the first place. How very sad that the anonymity of the web leads people to say things that would clearly be, at the very least, impolite in person. Separate God and science? No! I like this quote from a humble priest, Venerable Solanus Casey: “The only science that gives purpose to every other science is the science of religion–the science of our happy relationship with, and our providential dependence on God and our neighbor.”

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  • Susie

    As a teenager I was told by my nutritionist that we get MOST of our vitamin D via sun exposure through our eyes (maybe not when we’re wearing a bathing suit, but with clothing on). Even regular glasses or contacts (because they’re coated, I believe) keep a lot of vitamin D out. I had a variety of health issues at the time and, in MN during the winter, he told me to sit in front of a full-spectrum light with my eyes open and glasses off for an hour each day. I think you do get a small amount of vitamin D through glasses and sunglasses but those of us in northern climates need to maximize our sun exposure!

    Also, I have blue eyes and can testify that your eyes do adjust to what you tax them with. I remember my eyes watering outside when I was younger, but never wore sunglasses because I always wore regular glasses. Now I only need sunglasses while watching baseball in the evening or something that requires I look toward the sun for an extended period of time. My blue-eyed kids all have hats and only wear sunglasses when I do. They complain for the first few weeks of summer, then adjust!

    I thought I also read/watched a Dr. Mercola thing about vitamin D and eyes …

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  • Tiffany via Facebook

    I like your response :) I’m not religious by any means (not atheist, either) but I do believe that whatever force willed our existence into being is solely responsible for all things we consider to be science.

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  • Cindy via Facebook

    Love this, Katie. Thanks!

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  • Emily

    Your comment “Although I realize that a fallen world has made the sun’s rays more harmful, I still can’t believe that God would make it so complicated to be safe outside”, is so beautiful and a joy to read, that I literally had tears in my eyes. Thank you for reminding us in such a simple yet perfect way that 1) it is we who are messing up our world and 2) God is still in control but always has our best interests in mind!

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  • Marsha via Facebook

    I’ve been telling my kids this for years.

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  • Lauralee via Facebook

    Has she never read your blog before? The word “stewardship” gives a huge clue that you are Christian first! Keep up the good work! :)

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  • Christine via Facebook

    No sunglasses? Can’t do that because I’m wrinkled enough without the constant squinting when outside. What about cataracts?

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  • Kcaarin via Facebook

    what the heck is vitamin F? My kids don’t get sunburn! I thought it was from them getting out in the sun early in the spring for at least an hour each day.

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  • Beth via Facebook

    Vitamin C helps a lot. If I take 3-6,000 mg before or just after sun exposure I am almost never even pink the next day – and I used to burn and peel like crazy. Combined with E it is even better. After adding CLO to my routine I am even turning a very light color that is not red!

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  • zwuuf

    Vitamin B3 deficiency = sunburn.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Interesting,…tell us more. Links? Thanks!

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  • Laura

    I’m sorry I don’t have time to leave a more intelligent post with sources or links but I have read quite a bit about the type of oils we intake have an impact on how our skin responds to the sun and increasing risk of cancer. When we consume lots of rancid and processed oil in our diet those risks increase while if we consume healthy fats and plenty of coconut oils inside and outside our bodies it actually provides protection from the harm of the sun. This is consistent in cultures who use a lot of coconut oil traditionally without the influence of the Standard American Diet. Thanks for your post – as I pursue natural health I am always very aware that my trust and awareness must be more strongly in God while knowing his design is to give me a hope and a future and not to cause me harm. Stewardship of our common sense brings us a long way…

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  • via Facebook

    Christine Priddy Not something I’ve delved into much…does sun cause cataracts? See, I don’t even know anything about the issue – just a passing note.

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  • via Facebook

    Kcaarin Pineau That’s what I thought when I read the comment. ???

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  • Kcaarin via Facebook

    Kitchen Stewardship, I wrote the comment before I read the article. That’ll teach me LOL. But it was good! And now I know what Vitamin F is.

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  • Tonya

    I don’t know if “Kim” will respond, but I will. If the people at melanoma.org don’t know skin cancer & sunscreen, no one does. Here’s what they have to say: http://www.melanoma.org/learn-more/melanoma-101/sunscreen-safety

    Are the chemicals in sunscreen safe? I’ve heard about problems with oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and nanoparticles and I am worried.
    The safety of sunscreens has now been studied in labs and on live subjects by research scientists for years. The evidence that sunscreens are safe and effective is overwhelming.

    No evidence has shown that oxybenzone has any adverse health effect in humans. Oxybenzone can be absorbed by the body, but it does not accumulate, and it is excreted, making significant buildup virtually impossible. Oxybenzone has been approved by the FDA for human use and has also been reviewed exhaustively.

    There is no scientific evidence that retinyl palmitate causes cancer in humans. Previous information that caused controversy was from an unpublished study in mice and cannot be applied to humans.

    Current research indicates that fears about the absorption of nanoparticles are unwarranted. Sunscreen is applied to the outermost layer of the skin (the stratum corneum), which is made up of dead skin cells. Several studies have shown that nanoparticles do not penetrate living skin.

    Does sunscreen prevent melanoma and other skin cancers? I have heard that sunscreen may actually increase my risk of developing melanoma. Is that true?
    In 2010, new clinical research on humans shows more convincingly than ever that sunscreen helps protect against melanoma and other skin cancers.

    [b]A comprehensive review of all studies from 1996 to 2003 found no evidence that sunscreen increases your risk of developing melanoma.[/b] (article to which I think they refer: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082713/ – Note [b]“The majority of sunburn studies suggest a positive association between early age sunburn and subsequent risk of melanoma.”[/b])

    If I use sunscreen will I become Vitamin D deficient?
    [b]After reviewing 1,000 studies, it was found that the vast majority of Americans take in enough vitamin D.[/b] It was also found that there is no evidence that vitamin D deficiency is currently leading to cancers, heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions.

    Several studies have found that regular sunscreen use does not prevent adequate vitamin D intake.

    After reaching the full amount of vitamin D your body can make from sun exposure (this happens within about 5 minutes), further UV exposure actually has a reverse effect and breaks down vitamin D.

    It is recommended that children and adults obtain vitamin D from fish, fortified dairy products, cereals and supplements.

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    Julie Reply:

    Is there any credible research out there that investigates and compares the increase in sunscreen use and the increase/decrease in skin cancer rates?
    It seems to me that we should be at a point where we have adults who have used sunscreen all their lives so the skin cancer rates should be declining, but maybe not.
    “After reaching the full amount of vitamin D your body can make from sun exposure (this happens within about 5 minutes), further UV exposure actually has a reverse effect and breaks down vitamin D.”
    I’d love to see some research links for this statistic. Very interesting.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julie/Tonya,
    I’m feeling the same way after reading that…I’ve never ever seen that fact anywhere, that the sun breaks down Vitamin D. It’s amazing the human race ever survived before sunscreen… ??? Still need to learn a lot more, I guess.
    Katie

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tonya,
    Thank you so much for this…looks like I have some reading to do. The last line in particular is really making me crease my forehead – of their 4 suggestions, only fish is actual food, stuff that would have been available before 50-100 years ago. How, I wonder, did those folks get adequate Vitamin D? Or is the sun truly THAT much more powerful that it’s toxic to the fullest now, and wasn’t that dangerous long ago? I’m looking forward to reading something on the melanoma site that specifically addresses mineral sunscreens – for me, the fact that chemical sunscreens hurt the eyes so much is reason enough to choose mineral screens, if they both work just as well. We’ll see what I find out…

    Thanks, Katie

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tonya,
    Ok…I’ve dug in, more than I should have probably.

    My thoughts:

    The skin Cancer Foundation should be embarrassed to be on record saying that oxybenzone is safe and the EWG is “junk science” with two other groups that promote commercial products…how is that possibly valid or unbiased?
    http://www.sunscreensafety.info/?page_id=20

    “Made-up rating system” or not, the EWG certain cites a lot of sources!
    http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient.php?ingred06=704372

    On oxybenzone:
    “A 2008 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the compound to be present in 96.8% of human urine samples analyzed as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.[16]”
    The skin cancer foundation also admits that oxybenzone is a synthetic estrogen.
    http://www.medschat.com/wiki/Oxybenzone/

    Your info said that oxybenzone doesn’t accumulate.

    The skin cancer foundation DOES admit that “titanium and zinc are effective blockers of ultraviolet radiation.”
    http://www.skincancer.org/news/sunscreen/sunscreen-safety-is-called-into-question

    Thank goodness!

    They also discussed the research on sunscreens sinking into the skin that I explained in my first sun post this summer. The conclusion was that more research was needed on the effects under the skin, but that bad things only happened when UV rays hit the chemicals…so you need to reapply. That’s what I said, and why I think it’s RISKY to apply chemical sunscreens because then what IF you forget to reapply?

    Also from the SCF:
    “”At this point, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to firmly claim that sunscreens containing oxybenzone are unsafe.”

    Still, Dr. Hanson added that the UV filters used in sunscreens needed testing “to give us a better understanding of how these molecules behave in the skin.”

    So…innocent until proven guilty? Interesting. Doesn’t sound like something I want to be a guinea pig with.

    When the IOM said that most North Americans are NOT deficient in Vitamin D, I feel their whole report lost credibility. The Harvard School of Medicine agreed and challenged their findings formally. Most doctors I talk to personally say without question that most Michiganders are Vit D deficient.

    In the study you cited, the authors actually noted that there was a lot of controversy and conflicting evidence about sun exposure and melanoma/cancer, period. There have been many studies that showed no correlation between sun and skin cancer and also quite a few that demonstrated a correlation between consistent sun exposure and a REDUCED RISK of skin cancer. Many more studies seemed to show a correlation between sunBURN and skin cancer, and that folks who didn’t burn easily were more protected…I’m wondering again about the people who are tanning instead of burning (further up in this thread, my husband included) who attribute that change to better diet, and also the theory of the “base tan.”

    I think the conclusion we can draw is that there is MUCH we do not know or understand.

    I know I was looking for certain answers, but I was trying to be fair as I read the research. But thanks for sending me down the rabbit hole – I did learn a lot, again, but was also pleased to see some of the information I’ve been sharing validated.

    :) Katie

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  • Kim via Facebook

    First, Whenever there is a question, I like to lean toward the most naturally occurring solution.
    Second, the FDA has consistently failed to keep us safe. Why should I trust them?

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  • Christy via Facebook

    I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to look into my questions in the first comment, about my husband’s concerns with sunscreen while he’s out cycling? We did get some “Vitamin F” for him to take with vit C which we already had, definitely hoping that helps some :)

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  • Bambi via Facebook

    I enjoyed the info that you shared. I personally have rather a ‘fun in the sun’ approach unless we are headed to the beach. My kids don’t burn and we try to avoid being outside (at our house at least) after 12 when the sun can be the hottest. In the even it’s very humid and hot out they usually don’t even want to be outside. When we go to the beach they lather up.

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  • Linda via Facebook

    I do not wear sunscreen except when I’m going to the beach all day. At the beach I also wear a hat, sunglasses, have a white, long sleeve shirt and sit under an umbrella.

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  • Casandra via Facebook

    I think it’s great to be concerned enough about our kids and selves to do the research :) Many people put their faith in medical doctors, FDA, and so on and forget to put our faith in God. The FDA, and such, don’t care about us like God does. Where there’s a profit, there’s risks for lies and padded research. Here’s a great article from Dr.Mercola: http://products.mercola.com/summer-survival-kit/

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  • Brenda

    I do have point out some faulty theological thinking here:

    “Although I realize that a fallen world has made the sun’s rays more harmful, I still can’t believe that God would make it so complicated to be safe outside.”

    You note that we are fallen, but then go on to say God wouldn’t make it complicated to go outside. In doing so, you are indirectly indicating there is a limit to free will, which is not Catholic teaching. It is not that God would make it complicated for us to go outside, but He gave us true free will, which means he is not going to limit us from performing actions of our own free will that may make it incredibly complicated to go outside.

    A limited free will is no free will at all. So, it may indeed be that complicated go outside safely, but God didn’t make it that way, we did.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Brenda,
    Very true! I guess I should have added one little point, that I wasn’t under the impression that the negative impact humans have had on the ozone has been THAT bad already, that we’ve turned the sun into a super killer. At least I was hoping…nothing I read about sun exposure says anything like, “Because the ozone isn’t protecting us anymore, we need to…” or “We used to be able to get Vitamin D from the sun safely, but now…” You know? But you are absolutely right – I need to be careful not to throw God’s creation under the bus when man has messed it up, which is pretty much the case for all the junk we have to try to avoid nowadays, isn’t it? ;) Thanks for adding a very good point to the discussion – Katie

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  • Terri via Facebook

    I am against man made chemicals period. They do make chemical free sunscreen. I let the little ones go without it for a little while because susnhine is good for you. Just like all things not too much, but in moderation

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  • Heather via Facebook

    I went to a massage that used coconut oil…then put accelerant sun tanning lotion and went to the tanning bed…I know that’s bad but sometimes it has to happen for those special moments. I have very pale skin and burn easily. The tanning bed didn’t do a single thing to my skin in 10 minutes time. The coconut oil works! Also we takes megadoses of vitamin d. My kids are freckled and fair skin too. I never put sunscreen on them and they’ve never burned. I’ve had precancerous spot once in a place that I had once religiously put chemical sunscreen. I don’t use sun screen anymore and for the first time in my life I don’t burn anymore. Weird huh?

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  • via Facebook

    Christy Huh, I totally remember your comment/question and thought I had already replies – sorry about that! I replied now. :) Katie

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  • Christy via Facebook

    Thank you! :D He does have a pair of lightweight sleeves that he wears on occasion, but they aren’t the comfiest things (at least for him). I did let him read your response, and he’s pondering. Thanks again! :)

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  • Anita via Facebook

    Thank goodness for research and thank goodness some of us can look beyond what others deem is best for us. I am grateful for choices!

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  • Allison via Facebook

    We are about to go on vacay to a cottage on a lake for a week. I will consider taking coconut oil for sunscreen!! We actually rarely put on sunscreen anyway-lazy. But coconut oil…. I will try to remember to post results in a few weeks!

    [Reply to this comment]

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I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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