This weekend

Americans love to celebrate weekends at the beach or by the pool. If that’s your plan, I hope your day includes a dose of sunshine.

However, I have an important message before you cover yourself in sunscreen.

Don’t do it!

If you’re shaking your head in disbelief, I get it…

What I just said goes against everything you’ve heard for the last 40 years or so from doctors, dermatologists and the mainstream media. But I’ve been telling my patients for decades that covering themselves in commercial sunscreen is bad advice.  

In fact, since the start of the media campaign to push sunscreen started, the rate of deadly melanoma cases has risen dramatically.

If the numbers continue to increase at the current pace, over 100,000 new cases will be diagnosed by 2030.1

Commercial sun care products are dangerous for two reasons. First, they’re loaded with toxic chemicals that cause cancer.  

One of the worst is an ingredient called benzophenone.  Look out for this one.

When this chemical comes in contact with the sun, it actually increases your risk of skin cancer. Researchers at the University of California found that benzophenone boosts the production of free radicals in your skin by 64% after only 10 minutes in the sun.2

But there’s an even bigger reason to stop slathering sunscreen all over your body…

It blocks your vitamin D production by a whopping 99%.3

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me talk about vitamin D before.  Every cell in your body needs it to survive. And when you don’t get enough of it, your body doesn’t function properly.

There are dozens of studies that back up this vitamin’s power to fight cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers recently discovered why the “sunshine vitamin” is so necessary for your good health. They found that vitamin D triggers a gene that reduces inflammation at the DNA level.4

And as you probably know, inflammation is the root cause of all chronic disease.

I tell all my patients to boost their vitamin D levels with a safe and effective method I call “gentle tanning.”  This can give you all the vitamin D you need without burning. And without having to use toxic sunscreens.

Gentle tanning allows your body to build up melanin. That’s the pigment that causes skin to tan. It’s your built-in sunscreen.

By slowly developing this basic tan, you can eventually stay in the sun longer without burning.

Sit in the sun for a 15- to 20-minute period. Do this every day, or at least a few times a week.

Go ahead and expose the parts of your body that are usually covered by clothing. Roll up your sleeves and pant legs. But do wear a hat. Your face gets enough natural sun exposure every day.

Protect Yourself Without the Chemicals

By now you may be thinking, Dr. Sears, this is great advice for the future. But I have plans to be outside today and I need protection now…

When I’m outdoors for long periods of time — like when I’m in the tropics or South America — I sometimes need a topical sun care product.

And the only one I use is zinc oxide.

Zinc oxide sits on top of your skin, forming a barrier against the sun’s rays. It’s never absorbed into your skin. Instead it reflects UVA and UVB rays away from your body.

And the best part is it starts to work immediately.  

You might remember when lifeguards sported a bright white zinc-covered nose. But today’s zinc products are “micronized” so they’re no longer heavy or sticky. They’re also either transparent or lightly tinted.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS

1. Simon, S. “Melanoma Skin Cancer Rates Are On The Rise.” June 5, 2017.
2. Geraghty, LN. “Does Sunscreen Save Your Skin – Or Damage It?” Accessed July 3, 2017
3. Pfotenhauer, K., et al. “Widespread Vitamin D Deficiency Likely Due to Sunscreen Use, Increase of Chronic Diseases.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. May 2017, Vol. 117, 301-305.
4. Zhang, Y., et al. “Vitamin D inhibits monocyte/macrophage proinflammatory cytokine production by targeting MAPK phosphatase-1.” J Immunol. 2012 Mar 1;188(5):2127-35. doi.