If there’s a bright side to this wild year, it’s that a lot of us have rediscovered the simple pleasures of long walks outside.
It’s not like we have much choice about it. We’ve got nowhere else to go. But it’s good for our physical and mental health to get out, go for walks, and enjoy a little time out under the sun.
The downside is that many of us have also rediscovered something else… SUNBURN!
You can even get it now in autumn, as my husband recently found out (whoops). But I’m not about to deliver a lecture on slathering your entire body in sunscreen. In fact, I hate the stuff and rarely use it.
I’ll tell you what I do to help avoid sunburn in just a moment.
First, I’ve got new research on your skin health that could help ensure you don’t suffer too much damage from occasionally spending too much time in the sun. And I don’t just mean the old burn.
Cut your risk of skin cancer… naturally
First, let me burn off one BIG myth right away. Average sun exposure does NOT typically increase the risk of melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer.
And second, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods, either. Because the fact is too much UV exposure certainly CAN lead to a higher risk of other forms of skin cancer. And repeated sunburns could play a role in their development.
Experts estimate that 80 percent of skin cancers are basal cell cancers, and nearly 20 percent are squamous cells. Basal and squamous cancers VERY rarely spread to other parts of the body. And aren’t considered deadly.
But their no fun, either, and need to be taken seriously. Both types often lead to surgery that can leave you with some scars in obvious places, including the face and neck.
And that’s where this new research comes in. The study finds that a form of niacin (vitamin B3) called nicotinamide (or NAM) can protect skin cells from oxidative stress if you take it BEFORE sun exposure.
What’s more, NAM can also help REPAIR skin DNA that’s been damaged by exposure to UV light.
Protect your skin against sunburn damage
But here’s the thing: The skin cancer protection this potent form of B3 may provide doesn’t last long. If it’s not in your system in the 24 or so hours before exposure, it won’t do you much good if you end up with a sunburn.
So, if you’re spending a lot of time outside, you need to make sure you have ample sources of nicotinamide in your diet DAILY. And lucky for us, that’s easy to do. You’ll find NAM in some of your favorites, including milk, meat, eggs, and fish, as well as certain greens and beans.
Of course, don’t rely on NAM alone to protect you from sun damage. Make sure you practice other common-sense safety measures, too.
And by that, I don’t mean chemical-laced sunscreens.
Here’s what I do: I always bring a hat and long sleeves or a jacket with me. If it’s warm and sunny, I’ll enjoy some time outside without the hat and long sleeves. After all, I have got to make that vitamin D. But be sure to cover up after about 15 or 20 minutes to prevent sunburn and other damage that can lead to those cancers.
And on the rare occasions I do need some sunscreen, I skip the chemical junk and use natural mineral-based options instead.
Wondering why I avoid the other stuff? Sunscreen chemicals have been proven to penetrate the skin and mess with hormones. In fact, some sunscreen ingredients may even CAUSE cancer.. Click here for the disturbing details.