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Sunscreen plays a large role in the prevention of skin cancer
Nine months ago the world lost a ray of sunshine when my friend Shannon passed away after valiantly battling Stage IV melanoma for over four years. She was perhaps the kindest, most positive person this world has known, and many of us have vowed to honor her memory by educating people about the dangers of leaving your skin unprotected from the sun. She left behind a husband and four year old daughter and loving parents and in-laws, as well as myriad friends and people whose lives she touched.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent skin cancer is to wear sunscreen daily. The sun’s UVA rays are equally as strong every single day of the year, not just summer. Ideally, wear at least a SPF 15. Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
It’s also important to understand what SPF numbers mean. SPF 15 means that it will protect you from the sun 15 times longer than not using sunscreen at all. Likewise, SPF 50 protects 50 times longer than not using sunscreen. If you spend time outdoors for sports, swimming or working in the yard and wear SPF 15, you’ll have to reapply your sunscreen more frequently than if you used SPF 50.
Whole Foods provides many options for safe sunscreen. There are two types of sunscreen, chemical. Chemical sunscreens absorb directly INTO the skin, absorbing fully to block the sun’s rays. Unfortunately, with that comes the fact that these chemicals are now absorbed into your body and have been known as endocrine disruptors. Some of the specific chemicals have also been known to harm sea or aquatic life, so people who wear these to the beach may also be harming the environment. Chemical sunscreens may also not block BOTH UVA and UVB rays.
Physical sunscreen, on the other hand, blocks the sun rays by sitting directly on top of the skin. With these, you might see a white film (zinc oxide), but despite leaving the film this helps block BOTH UVA and UVB rays. Whole Foods only carries physical sunscreens.
This month I used my Whole Foods gift card to stock up on physical sunscreens, Kiss my Face for me and Alba for my daughter. Physical sunscreens often cost sightly more than chemical sunscreens, but sometimes it’s worth paying a little more for the health benefits.
To learn more about sunscreen, check out this fact sheet from Whole Foods. To learn more about Shannon as a person and to read a real-life account why use of sunscreen and frequent skin checks are so important, check out Sunshine and Shadows.