The Truth About Sunblock

danger of sunblock

The truth about sunblock

My three year old started swimming lessons this summer in our heated pool. my wife and I decided it was time we teach little Trevor how to fend for himself in the water. I called my editor at and she told me to call Ben Weckler, the private swim instructor that will come to your home. Of course Ben told us that we should dip little Trevor in sun block to avoid sun exposure, or he would face an increased risk of skin cancer.

It’s not just Ben Weckler in his speedo warning the world of the dangers of the sun. It’s the American Cancer Society’s ad campaign: “Fry Now. Pay Later.” The American Academy of Dermatology almost forbids exposing your skin to the sun without tons of sunscreen. The big boys up in Washington at the Food and Drug Administration have likened sun light to a pack of cigarettes and termed ultraviolet radiation a carcinogen. No wonder there is widespread paranoia about laying out in the sun. 

Is the sun really that bad for you? The Washington Post recently (a little late in the summer) ran a story from Michael F. Holick, a big shot professor of medicine at Boston University Medical Center. He knows a thing or two about sun exposure and  vitamin D. What does he have to say about the push for zero sub exposer? “The risks associated with sensible sun exposure have been exaggerated by well-meaning health authorities, and the measures to guard against them often have nothing to do with the sun’s occasionally malignant effects. Contrary to the paranoia generated by years of messaging, the sun is not our enemy. It’s safe to step back outside — and, please, go easy on the sunscreen.”

That’s right! Humans need the sun. What a concept! I don’t want top freak you out, but a lack of vitamin D is associated with increased risk for Types 1 and 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, colon and breast cancer, influenza and tuberculosis. In short, you need some sunlight! So of course you’ve been sold the same load of crap that we all read about the vital need for sun block every time you get close to a cracked window.

But you don’t need to be a Doctor to know we need a little vitamin D every day. The good old ball of fire in the sky, known as the sun, is the only real way to get your daily dose. Daily supplements don’t work as well. So what has this sun paranoia done for people? Holick points out that Australia’s been on the forefront of curbing its skin cancer rates by using massive media campaigns to get people less sun exposure. Sadly now 31 percent of Australians are missing vitamin D. The D deficiency is directly connected to a number of serious and deadly conditions, including several cancers.

So get out of your office and get some sun. Vitamin D is really important. Vitamin D has a bunch of vital functions. Technically it’s a hormone that is responsible for making sure there is absorption of dietary calcium and phosphorus, two nutrients essential for bone health and neuromuscular activity.  Vitamin D is kinda a big deal as it regulates cellular growth. That means keeping cells healthy and helping to prevent them from becoming malignant. 

Anyway, after Ben pulled away in his yellow Nissan Xterra, I let Trevor play outside by the pool (don’t tell anyone). He wasn’t wearing sun block (or a bathing suit).


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