The first day of summer doesn't hit until next week, but if you're like me, you've already been out enjoying the sun and warm weather. That's a good thing, as the sun provides us with some incredible healing nutrients. One of the most important is vitamin D. But burning can severely damage your skin and make you more susceptible to cancer.
The marketers of sunscreen will tell you that their products will protect you from cancer. But some studies suggest just the opposite. One study from the Memorial Sloan-Cancer Center in New York found that people who use sunscreen are more likely to get melanoma than those who don't. Of course, some studies show modest protection from sunscreens and others suggest there is no connection. So what are we supposed to do?
Some people say avoid sunscreens completely. Man lived largely outdoors for thousands of years without sunscreen, so I'm not convinced it's absolutely necessary. And many of the sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that can cause cancer. But, frankly, I don't like the pain of a severe sunburn. So I'm not a purist here. I'll use sunscreen sparingly if I know I'm going to be in the sun for a long time. Otherwise, I go without.
There are sunscreens on the market made from natural ingredients. You can find these at most health food stores. But you can also protect your skin from sunburn from the inside out. One of the ways to protect your skin from exposure to UV rays is take a supplement containing fern extract. Fern extract is exactly what it sounds like ... an extract from a fern that grows in Central and South America. You might also find it listed as polypodium leucotomos extract. While it's not technically a sunscreen, and it won't protect you from over-exposure, it can help protect your skin from normal exposure.
Research out of the University of Miami School of Medicine found that fern extract significantly reduces the damage ultraviolet rays cause to your DNA. This is the damage that leads to wrinkling and brown spots. You can find fern extract supplements at many health food stores and online. The manufacturers typically recommend taking one tablet or capsule daily starting one week before you plan to spend a lot of time in the sun. In the spring and summer, that's hard to predict. You might spend time in the sun just about any day. So you might want to consider taking the supplement through the outdoor season. This will keep the antioxidants from the fern extract built up in your system to give you maximum protection.
If you spend a lot of time in the swimming pool or ocean during the summer, the chlorine and salt also can wreak havoc on your skin. To protect your skin, simply take 2.5 mg of the B vitamin biotin. It will help keep your skin and nails healthy and less likely to crack or break.
I don't recommend relying on any one sunburn preventive until you're sure it works for you. So use two or three preventives. Taking just a few simple precautions can let you really enjoy the sun this summer without fear of cancer. In a future issue, I'll tell you about a revolutionary new product that does act as a natural sunscreen.
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Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.