Tag Archives: sun protection

Vitamin D May Prevent Uterine Fibroids

Women with adequate Vitamin D levels are 32% less likely to develop uterine fibroids, according to a new study published in Epidemiology journal this month (1).

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths attached to the uterus, and they normally affect women of childbearing age. Many women with fibroids experience no symptoms at all. In others, fibroids can cause symptoms such as heavy periods, pelvic pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder and backache. As a result of these debilitating symptoms, fibroids are one the most common reasons for women to undergo hysterectomy.

Fibroids occur in around 20% of women, but those of African descent have been shown to have a higher incidence of fibroid formation (50-80%). They are a significant concern for women because of the difficult symptoms linked to their growth. In addition, fibroids are a particular concern to women of childbearing age as they can have a negative effect on fertility. They can block the fallopian tubes, affect blood flow to the uterine cavity, change the shape of the uterus and prevent sperm from travelling through the cervix.

In the recent study, led by Donna Baird of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), researchers measured levels of Vitamin D

The Sun
Exposure to the sun for more than one hour can decrease risk of fibroids

in 1,036 women between the ages of 35-49. Circulating levels of Vitamin D, also known as 25-hydroxy D, were measured using blood samples. Women with more than 20 nanograms per millilitre were classed as having sufficient levels of the vitamin, although many specialists believe that the minimum level for sufficiency should be higher still.

Study participants also completed a questionnaire on sun exposure. Those who spent more than one hour outside per day had a decreased risk of fibroids, with an estimated reduction of 40 percent. It is interesting to note that fibroids are more common in black women, and that black women also tend to have lower levels of Vitamin D as skin pigmentation reduces the formation of Vitamin D in the skin (2).

Scientists are often quick to point out that “correlation does not imply causation”, meaning that a correlation between two factors does not mean that one causes the other. However in this case the researchers provide evidence of a causal relationship. The researchers noted that treatment of cultures of human uterine fibroid tissue with a form of Vitamin D resulted in decreased cell proliferation accompanied by inhibition of molecular pathways for fibrosis. In other words, Vitamin D was found to play active role in slowing the growth of fibroid tissue.

The study authors conclude that the link between Vitamin D and uterine fibroids warrants further investigation, and it is hoped that these findings will encourage further research in this area. In the meantime, it would be wise for those affected by fibroids to take measures to ensure their Vitamin D levels are sufficient.

References

1. Baird D et al (2013) Vitamin D and the Risk of Uterine Fibroids. Epidemiology. May 2013. 24:3, 447-453.

2. Harris S (2006) Vitamin D and African Americans. Am Soc Nutr. April 2006. 136:4, 1126-1129.

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Can chemical-free sunscreen help prickly heat?

Hot summer weather and beach holidays are adored by many but for around 10% of the population they can mean days of itchy misery thanks to a common condition called prickly heat. This tends to affect people year after year but could something as simple as switching to a non-waterproof, chemical-free sunscreen reduce the irritating effects of prickly heat?

What is prickly heat?

Also known as miliaria, it causes bumps or blisters to appear in a rash across areas of skin during a spate of hot weather. The rash can take several days to disappear, even if conditions are much cooler.

Avoid Prickly Heat
Avoid Prickly Heat by staying cool and keeping hydrated in the sunshine.

Prickly heat can appear almost anywhere on the body, especially confined areas such as the armpits, but tends not to affect the face. It often affects areas of the body covered by clothing as there tends to be more sweat produced where the clothing rubs against the skin. This rash is caused by sweat glands in the skin becoming blocked. This stops the sweat from escaping the body and instead leads it to leak into nearby skin, causing redness and rashes. Whilst this does not generally have any serious health consequences, the prickly heat rash can be very irritating and can really put a dampener on holidays to hot countries.

Some people are more prone to prickly heat than others. Babies and children quite commonly suffer from it as their sweat glands are not properly developed yet and can produce sweat too quickly for their skin to cope with. Being overweight can also increase the likelihood of developing a prickly heat rash as this can lead to increased sweating.
5 quick tips for reducing prickly heat

The first way to reduce your prickly heat is to reduce the amount you sweat. This can be achieved by simple measures such as:

• Staying in the shade
• Wearing only loose-fitting, cool clothes
• Showering in cool water regularly
• Avoiding exercise in hot weather
• Drinking more water than usual

It may seem counterproductive to hydrate your body more when you are trying to reduce sweating but in hot climates our bodies need far more water than usual. Drinking more will also help to prevent other consequences of dehydration, such as headaches and fatigue.

Chemical-free sunscreens and prickly heat

As well as reducing the amount you sweat, you should try to prevent your sweat glands from becoming blocked. These may become blocked through dead skin cells or bacteria.

Some people find that exfoliation can help as it removes the dead skin cells blocking their pores, allowing the sweat to escape normally. However, it is advisable to exfoliate before you go on holiday as waiting until the prickly heat has started could irritate the skin further.

One further cause of blocked sweat glands is waterproof sunscreen, which can contain pore-clogging ingredients and is like wrapping your skin in cling film! It is possible that these may aggravate your prickly heat, as they reduce the amount of sweat that can escape your skin. The resulting build up of sweat inside the skin can then create prickly heat rash symptoms.

Green People has a range of natural sunscreens which do not contain the pore-clogging ingredients which can aggravate prickly heat and they are especially suitable for people with the condition. Green People sunscreens are also free from PABA, parabens and artificial colours and fragrances.

Soothing prickly heat

If you are prone to prickly heat and you are going on holiday to a hot place then it is best to take a soothing body lotion with you. If you develop prickly heat, it will help to reduce the itching which prickly heat can cause, as well as calming and hydrating sun-exposed skin.

An organic After Sun lotion which contains soothing Aloe Vera, Calendula and/or cooling Mint would be a good addition to your suitcase. Refreshing and calming, it is ideal for using after a day in the sun.

Content kindly provided by Green People

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Does an SPF30 sun lotion give twice the protection of an SPF15 product?

Does an SPF30 sun lotion give twice the protection of an SPF15 product? No – SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures the protection against UVB provided by a sunscreen. An SPF15, when applied properly, protects you against 16 out of 17 parts or 93% of UVB. An SPF 30 protects you against 32 out of 33 parts or 97% UVB.

SPF15 93% – 16 parts out of 17 (7% UVB gets through)
SPF25 96% – 24 parts out of 25 (4% UVB gets through)
SPF30 97% – 32 parts out of 33 (3% UVB gets through)

SPF50 will block 98% of UVB rays and SPF100 99%.

Natural SuncareIn reality there is actually not much difference between SPF15 and SPF100 – at least a lot less difference than the SPF figure appears to represent. The fact is that, as long as they are properly applied, most sun lotions offer quite a high level of protection and it just isn’t necessary for most of us to use an ultra-high SPF sunscreen.

SPF ratings higher than 30 are primarily used by sun care companies as a marketing tool, and take advantage of the public’s misperception of what the protection ratings mean.

More worryingly is the fact that these higher SPF levels encourage people to spend longer periods in the sun as they are not visibly burning. However, UVA rays will still be getting through, and it is thought that these are far more damaging in the long term than UVB rays. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin where it can affect living cells in the dermis. This damage can cause symptoms of premature ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles, and can also damage the DNA that carries the genetic code of each cell. If the DNA becomes damaged, cells may mutate and this is thought to be a leading cause of skin cancers.

It is far more important to apply sun lotions in sufficient quantity, to reapply regularly, and to wear protective clothing during exposure to strong sunlight, than it is to use sun lotions with very high SPF factors. Applying half the recommended amount of sun lotion will only give protection equal to the square root of the claimed SPF level. This means that applying half the recommended amount of an SPF15 product will only give approximately SPF4 protection, whilst half the amount of SPF30 will only give approximately SPF5½. As you see from these figures, the difference in protection level between these two products is minimal.

An average adult should use about a 30ml or shot-glass-full to cover the entire body. At this level, an SPF15 sun lotion will filter out 93% of UVB rays, whilst and SPF25 will filter out 96% of UVB. You should also reapply every 2 to 3 hours and always after swimming or profuse sweating in order to maintain protection.

NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) published guidance advising people to use a broad spectrum sun lotion with at least SPF15 protection.

Content kindly provided by Green People

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Carotenoids: Protect Your Skin From The Inside

Hopefully you have all been having a great time in the beautiful sunshine these last few days – it’s a great opportunity to spend more time outdoors. Whether that be pottering in the garden or going for long walks, having picnics in the park or barbeques with friends or sunbathing and enjoying everything else these warmer climes have to offer.

It is also a time when people start to think about their body shape and appearance as they dig out their summer clothes and dare to bare more skin. This is generally a very positive time for most people as our “winter blues” are improved and we begin to get more vitamin D from the sun and feel more energised. However, it is also a time when individuals can suffer from the negative effects from the sun such as prickly heat, sun stroke and sun burn. Damage to the skin from excessive sun exposure may not be a priority for those in their youth, however skin damage at any age is extremely detrimental and over time the harmful and ageing effects of the sun can become more apparent.

The skin is our largest organ and it provides us with a barrier against damaging pathogens entering our bodies such as bacteria and free radicals from our environment. In order to prevent these factors from entering our bodies, we need a high level of protection as they not only impact on our immune systems but they can also significantly contribute to ageing.

Tomatoes contain lycopene
Tomatoes contain high level of the antioxidant lycopene which can help towards anti-ageing

A recent review (1.) published by the journal Molecules analysed research findings available in the area of skin health and the effects of powerful antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. These free-radical scavengers are found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables  such as carrots, tomatoes and sweet potato.

The authors reported that these antioxidants enhance the skins ability to protect itself from oxidative stress as they act to mop up and destroy the free radicals that attempt to attack our skin and cause signs of ageing. However, the levels of these carotenoids are significantly affected by detrimental lifestyle factors. These include smoking or stress, poor diet, illness and exposure to the sun (especially  sunburn) and were reported to significantly reduce the levels of concentrations of antioxidant carotenoids in human skin.

These factors can result in skin damage as they reduce our level of protection and speed up the ageing process which can result in sun spots, pigmentation, lines and wrinkles and sagging of the skin. The authors reported that increasing levels of carotenoids in dietary and supplemental forms was reportedly one of the best defensive approaches against ageing.

Therefore to help keep looking and feeling young, youthful and radiant, make sure you top up your levels of carotenoids and limit your exposure to the sun to keep your levels of these antioxidants high. Raw carrots dipped in hummus, tomato salads or roasted butternut squash are some ways of incorporating higher levels of these antioxidants into your diet. If you can’t stand vegetables or want to supplement your diet with an extra boost, then a high quality carotenoid supplement could be considered.

As well as protecting your skin from the inside, it is also important to protect your skin on the outside with good quality, high factor natural sun protection cream. You can find more blog posts about natural sunscreens here.

Written by Lauren Foster

Refererences
1. Darvin, M.E., Sterry, W., Lademann, J. and Vergou, T. (2011) The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin. Molecules 16, 10491-10506.

2. Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane

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