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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Tan or Not To Tan - That Is The Question

The overwhelming consensus of the field of dermatology is that any sun tanning is not good and should be avoided like the plague. However, there have been a few papers from the scientific community suggesting that cancer risks are relatively small and there are numerous benefits to be gained with prudent exposure to sunlight.

The Skin Cancer Foundation states that most people receive about 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood is estimated to double the risk of melanoma later in life. Although melanoma is the rarest of all the skin cancers it is no doubt the most threatening.

The sun has so many healthy benefits it can easily out weigh the risks if caution is used. The key is to be prudent, informed, and safe about your time in the sun. Let's go over just a few of the many benefits to sun exposure then we can discuss some sun safety tips.

Benefits to the sun

1. Exposure to sunlight produces the same benefits as exercise: increases in strength, energy, endurance, tolerance to stress, and the ability of the blood to absorb and carry oxygen; and decreasing the resting heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, blood sugar and lactic acid.

2. Sunlight provides your body with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is very important because it helps with the absorption of calcium and other vital minerals from your diet. Researchers found that Vitamin D in milk and vitamin supplements is not a sufficient replacement to the Vitamin D that is produced by sun exposure. Vitamin D can help your body fight against breast cancer and colon cancer.

3. Sunlight has been scientifically proven to reduce serum cholesterol levels. In a study by the ASSA 97% of subjects had a 13% decrease in cholesterol levels within 2 hours after first exposure.

4. Sunlight is necessary to the production of Solitrol (an important hormone found within the skin).

5. The Natural Psoriasis Foundation reports that 80% of the people suffering from Psoriasis improve when exposed to sunlight.

6. Sunlight reduces the effects of PMS, such as mild depression and mood swings, irritability, physical discomfort, and social withdrawal.

Tips to tanning safely:

1. Use sun block with a low SPF. This will help prevent sun damage but still allow you to get a nice tan. Apply atleast 30 minutes before exposure and every 2 hours after that.

2. Don't forget about your lips. Yes, you can sunburn your lips. Using a lip balm or chap stick with an SPF rating will really help protect you. Since your lips don't tan, apply often.

3. Try to avoid sun exposure between noon & 3pm when the sunlight is at its most direct. Move to a shady area or use higher SPF sunscreen during these times.

4. Start with a short time in the sun and work up to longer periods of sun once your body becomes more tanned. This helps your body become used to the exposure and lessens your chances of sunburns.

5. People with fair skin, freckles, or moles and people under the age of 16 should use higher SPF and limit their time in the sun. Fair skin usually means more chance of sunburns. Consider wearing wide brimmed hats to reduce exposure to the face.

6. If you use tanning beds to help your tan, try to limit yourself to under 10 hours per year.

7. Always keep aloe or cocoa butter handy and treat any sunburns as quickly as you can to reduce the negative effects.

8. Try to reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine when sunbathing as they cause frequent urination and thus can cause dehydration.

9. See your dermotoligist as often as recommended by your doctor.

Now that you are better equipped with information, lets go out and work on our full body tans.

Posted by Chris, Indiana Naturists

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