Growing up in the northeast we didn’t really worry about getting a sunburn until the city pools opened for the season: right around July 4th. Living in Florida means every day is a potential “sunburn” so after a certain age we all start buying moisturizers that contain an “SPF” number. Preventing skin cancer is big business here and rightfully so.
This past week I have seen at least 3 articles and one television interview on the topic of “eating your sunscreen” or something similar. Now just in case you haven’t seen said article, get ready for a spoiler alert: I don’t mean adding rum to a glass of your coconut flavored tanning oil. The premise is that if you eat enough fruits and veggies with high enough ORAC numbers (antioxident activity) that you can protect your skin from burning in the first place or at the very least speed up your recovery time from the blister-itching-peeling that comes with a sunburn.
Overexposure to UV rays of the sun not only cause your skin to burn but continued overexposure can lead to skin cancer.
In 2006 in the Journal of Nutrition, German researchers studied 24 women who agreed to add cocoa to their breakfasts every day for about 100 days. The goal was to show that the flavonoids found in dark chocolate can protect against skin cancer.
According to the researchers, flavonoids can absorb UV light and this likely played a role in the results. Flavonoids can also be powerful antioxidants. And since skin reddening after UV exposure is actually inflammation, dietary antioxidants may be able to decrease the skin’s response. With such a small sample size and short duration, follow-up studies are needed to confirm the outcome and explain the mechanism behind it.
Just recently I had an appointment for my annual skin check with my dermatologist. Not once did she even suggest that as long as I continued to eat blueberries, watermelon, tomatoes and dark chocolate that I could go without sunscreen.
Keep the smiles in your vacation photos; don’t forget the sunscreen as you head out to the beach, or pool or hiking or any activity that keeps you out in the sun.