Throw away the sunscreen! | Chris Kresser
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Throw away the sunscreen!


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This article is being updated. Thanks for your patience!

  1. I adore Chris Kresser and have referred several of my friends to his website and podcast for his highly credible and valuable information and resources. I’ve been wanting to record a question for his podcast, but am not brave enough to do so. Plus, my question has to do with vanity and sun exposure, so not sure that it would be as pressing as other matters. Anyhow, I live in MN, father passed away from melanoma, am small boned, fair skinned, blue eyed and it’s been drilled into me to wear sunscreen. For the past decade I’ve used only sunscreens with physical blocks in them. This fall I’ve stopped using sunscreen all together, but am worried about getting sun damage that will cause wrinkles and brown spots. I’ve been using rosehip seed oil and other oils for daily moisture on my face, but these oils are reportedly high in vitamin A (which apparently converts to retinoic acid

    • Oops, I accidentally bumped the computer and did not finish my post. (That’s embarrassing and I apologize for the typos and poor grammar). What I meant to say was that rosehip seed oil is high in retinoic acid which apparently converts to vitamin A. Should I not be using that in the day time, and will this lead to photo damage? I think much of the debate has to do with retinyl-palmitate, if I’m sifting through the information correctly. The links to the articles above did not work for me, but a Google search about sunscreen/vitamin A/cancer provided a lot of conflicting information. I also understand that the face doesn’t generate a lot of vitamin D, so my main area that I’m trying to protect from sun damage is my face. (I do supplement with FCO-BOB and my vitamin D levels test in the 50s ng/ml). Am I wrong in my line of thinking with UV damage (wrinkles/brown spots)? What about vitamin A in natural sources such as rosehip seed oil, sea buckthorn berry seed oil, carrot seed oil, etc.?

  2. I have to wonder how much vitamin D is actually synthesized from sunlight if one has just had a shower, or one spends a lot of time in a pool, or in a lake, river or the sea. If the natural body oils are washed off (more likely in some soap-obsessed cultures than others), how does this synthesis take place?

  3. There is a notice here that says the article is currently being updated. It has been that way for a couple days now, any information as to when it might be back? I was linked here from PaleoHacks and it seems like an interesting read.

  4. Thanks, Chris.  I actually got here from that aolnews article, after doing some related searches.  I would like to see actual studies that show evidence supporting a causal relationship between sunscreen w/retinol and melanoma.  That article does not link to any scientific studies.  But I do appreciate your suggesting it.

  5. The studies are mixed on the carcinogenic effects of sunscreen.  But a study just published suggests a link between sunscreens containing retinol and cancer.

  6. Thanks for the link.  The conclusion stated in the abstract is:
    “No association was seen between melanoma and sunscreen use. Failure to control for confounding factors may explain previous reports of positive associations linking melanoma to sunscreen use. In addition, it may take decades to detect a protective association between melanoma and use of the newer formulations of sunscreens. ”

    So this study appears to refute any link between sunscreen use and melanoma rates; i.e., sunscreen neither reduces nor increases the incidence of melanoma.

  7. Like Stephen, I am interested in this statement you make:

    “A comprehensive review of research studies from 1966 through 2003 failed to show any association between melanoma and sunscreen use! (Dennis et al. 2003)”

    Based on your statement, this study should have showed that sunscreen neither prevent nor caused melanoma.  Is that accurate?  Is it what you intended to argue?  Can you provide a link to this study?  I’d be interested in reading it.

  8. I think this is some interesting stuff and i’m going to have to research it further.
    One flaw in your logic is that you cite Dennis et al, 2003 as proof that sunscreen doesn’t prevent melanoma and then go on to argue that sunscreen causes melanoma when the same source (Dennis et al, 2003) concludes otherwise.  In fact, the objective of the review by Dennis et al was to determine if past research supported the claim that sunscreen contributes to melanoma and they concluded that it does not.

  9. This article made me feel better about the fact I rarely ever use sun screen. Mainly only when I know I’ll be out somewhere long enough that I will guarantee to burn, severely,  if I don’t use it. Otherwise I welcome the natural vitamin D. I always feel better doing so.
    As for sunglasses though… I have trouble seeing in sunlight, without them. And not just when driving, but anywhere, really. I even need them to drive safely, on bright, but cloudy days. If I loose them, I find myself squinting often. >.<