Sonne Ha, 2011 12 08

Sunlight Series: Part 1 – Introduction

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Featured photo courtesy of Michael Karrer.

“You should really put on some sunscreen”

“You’re going to get wrinkles”

“Aren’t you concerned about skin cancer?”

“Any amount of sun exposure is bad”

“I can’t go out without sunglasses”

It seems as though the sun has been demonized in our culture as a potent source of damaging radiation that is ruthless in its assault against our biggest organ: our skin (and to a degree, our eyes). That same ball of gravitationally induced nuclear fusion that our planet orbits and feeds our dear Earth with life giving warmth and light is apparently the same dangerous furnace that rips apart our DNA causing nothing but cancerous tumors that will lead to an untimely demise unless we continuously slather on a chemical cocktail to block it all out.

I'm super good at art.
I’m super good at art.

Now, there is no doubt that sunlight places a stress on our bodies. I am definitely aware and understand that skin cancer does indeed exist and is dangerous. I am also aware that (excessive) sunlight exposure can be a risk factor for skin cancer. Even so, I find it really hard to believe that sunlight is always the only factor involved. I’m not suggesting that everyone believes this, but I’ve heard enough along those lines from otherwise intelligent people that I have become motivated to thoroughly discuss this topic and defend (even recommend!) my sunlight exposure habits. What are these habits, you might ask? Well, they include, but are not limited to:

  • Making an effort to walk around outside mid-day with no sunglasses or sunscreen (ideally, with no shirt either, at least in the summer)
  • Only wearing sunscreen in the most extreme of circumstances
  • Only wearing sunglasses in the most extreme of circumstances
  • Getting a slight sunburn a few times in the summertime (nothing brutal, but yeah a bit pink)
  • If I do decide that I’ve had enough, putting on a shirt and hat to avoid excessive sun exposure, or seeking shade
That’s pretty much it! I’ve never enjoyed slathering on sunscreen, and usually go the entire summer without doing it once despite lots of outdoors time. Have I ever had a painful experience as a result? Yes. Yes I have, and I will discuss these experiences in a later post (they are becoming fewer and further between as I learn and mature).

This is going to be the first in a series of posts on sunlight. First, we have some (awesome and entertaining) hard science to discuss, where we’ll take a look at exactly what sunlight is, and what it does to our bodies (both good and bad). After that, we’re going to discuss the statistics of skin cancer, and all the factors involved. Then we’ll look at ways improving your natural resistance to the sun through dietary and behavioural methods. As a final piece, I will delve into different types of sunscreens and which ones to use when the situation truly does require it.

Then comes the current state of conclusions, where I think you’ll find it relates back to what I’ve already said about stressors, and how our resistance, response, and adaptation to these stressors is intimately tied into the context in which we encounter them. Let’s make it HOT! (i.e., begin the discussion…)

Please, readers, leave a comment on the blog itself. I love Facebook comments, but would love it even more if there were comments on my blog. Let me know your thoughts, dear friends! At this point, what are your thoughts on sunlight exposure and sunscreen use?

Stay tuned for the next one!

– G

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