If you love staying out in the sunshine but worry when that tan turns into a burn, there’s a groundbreaking study you should know about. It blows another hole in the modern medical myth that sunshine’s bad for you – and that sunscreens full of toxic chemicals are your best and only defense.
There’s no question that if you get sunburns often, you’re risking lasting damage to your skin, including melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer. But it turns out that Nature’s got a weapon against sunburn that may outperform any sunscreen on the market. It halts the processes that lead to sunburn by nearly 80 percent.1 And unlike the commercial skin care products, it’s completely safe and natural.
It unleashes your body’s natural healing power so that spending time in the sun won’t hurt you. It lasts for days, long after it’s been washed away. Even better – it works without blocking the sun’s rays.
You can spend a relaxing day at the beach, play a full eighteen holes on the golf course, or just putter around the garden without worry of having to slather artificial chemicals on your skin – all the while reaping the health benefits of sunlight. And to find the source of the most powerful new ally in skin cancer prevention, you don’t have to look any further than the produce section at your local supermarket.
Meet Sulforaphane: Nature’s Powerful Cancer Fighter
Broccoli’s the simple vegetable that might cut into the $5 billion-a-year sunscreen industry’s profits someday.
There’s a naturally occurring chemical compound in broccoli called sulforaphane. It’s a potent antioxidant and cancer-fighter scientists stumbled on fifteen years ago. It’s in kale, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, even brussels sprouts. (Your mother was right when she told you to eat your brussels sprouts.)
Since it was first discovered there’s been a mountain of clinical research proving sulforaphane’s power as an ironclad defense against many kinds of cancer, including cancers of the breast and prostate.2 But until recently, studies focused on it as something you’d get in foods or as a supplement. It hadn’t occurred to anyone to look at how sulforaphane might work if you used it like a lotion.
So a team of researchers at John Hopkins University did just that. They started out with three-day-old broccoli sprouts, because the sprouts of the plant have 30-50 times more sulforaphane than the mature broccoli we’re used to seeing at the grocery store.
The Johns Hopkins team made a lotion with the broccoli sprout extract and applied it to the skin just like sunscreen, testing it on the skin of mice and on human volunteers. One of the keys to this particular study was that they exposed the skin to high intensity ultraviolet radiation for up to three days.
And that’s when something amazing happened. In the human volunteers, those who hadn’t been given lotion developed sunburns, including reddening and inflammation. But the other group saw a 40 percent reduction in sunburn on average, and nearly 80 percent in one case.
What’s more the lotion’s healing power lasted long after it had already been fully absorbed by the skin. In other words, the broccoli extract lotion practically eliminated sunburn under extreme conditions.
So how does it work?
Turn on Your “Sun-Protecting” Gene
Rather than “coating” the top layer of your skin like commercial sunscreen, the Johns Hopkins researchers’ found that their broccoli sprout lotion actually goes straight into your skin cells. From there it fires up a number of processes that maintain robust skin health.
Overexposure to sunlight causes sunburn because the sun’s rays interact with oxygen to create molecules that can eventually damage the DNA in your skin cells. Over time, causes them to die or become cancerous.
Sulforaphane has the power to guard DNA by turning on a set of skin-protection genes, like a key in an ignition. Once activated, they release chemicals called “phase 2 enzymes.” These enzymes neutralize the molecules that damage DNA. They also reduce inflammation, another painful symptom of sunburn.
So you can see how differently it works from sunscreen. It lets the sunlight in while sparking your skin’s natural healing power. Think of it
as a kind of skin cream that works from the inside out.
Since it works without blocking the sun’s rays, broccoli extract lotion has the potential to protect you from overexposure withoutrobbing your body of the sun’s many health benefits.
Your Body Needs Sunlight
No matter what the medical establishment and the sunscreen industry say, your body has a physical need for sunlight. You probably already know that your skin reacts to sunlight by making vitamin D. But you may not know just how beneficial vitamin D really is. Here’s just a sample of its clinically proven power.
- Elevates mood and boosts mental performance
- Prevents many types of cancers, including prostate, breast and ovarian
- Reduces the risk of melanoma
- Halts and even reverses the effects of bone diseases like rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis
- Relieves depression and lessens the symptoms of schizophrenia
- Enhances the function of your pancreas
- Increases insulin sensitivity and prevents diabetes
- Promotes weight loss
- Provides more restful sleep
- Lends energy, vitality, and stamina
- Lowers blood pressure
- Brings high blood sugar levels down
- Lowers the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood
- Increases white blood cell activity and strengthens immunity
It will probably be a while before broccoli extract lotion becomes available to the general public. (Among other things, they still need to figure out how to keep it from breaking down before it makes its way onto store shelves.)
Four Steps to “Sun-Living”
In the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to take advantage of the sun’s health-promoting power andprotect yourself. Here are four simple steps you can take right now.
1) Stop using sunscreen.
Most people don’t know this – even many dermatologists – but sunscreen not only offers no real protection against skin cancers from overexposure to the sun. In fact, it can actually cause cancer. Here’s a short list of some of the artificial, carcinogenic compounds widely used by the sunscreen industry:
Cancer-causing chemicals in commercial sunscreens
|PABA (also known as octyl-dimethy and padimate-O)||When exposed to sunlight, it attacks DNA and causes genetic mutation.|
|Octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC)||Toxic to and can kills cells.|
4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC).
|Mimic estrogens, causing disruption of real hormone and stimulate cancer cells to grow.|
What’s more, there’s never been any evidence that sunscreens prevent the most serious kinds of skin cancer. The science backs me up on this. A recent study published in the prestigious journal Lancet found that while sunscreen may protect against two of the three most common skin cancers, it has not been conclusively shown to protect against melanoma, the most lethal type.3
2) Get your skin-healthy nutrients, especially antioxidants.
There’s no question that overexposure to sunlight can cause free radical damage to your skin. The good news is antioxidants are powerful free radical “scavengers.” They not only prevent skin damage, they can actually reverse the effects of aging from long-term sun exposure.
For your skin these three supplements in particular are important: Vitamin C – 1000 mg, CoQ10 – 100 mg, and Vitamin E – 400 IEU. They’re inexpensive and readily available on line or in health food stores.
You can also ramp up the antioxidant content in your diet. Look for foods rich in vitamins E, C, and A. Here are a few of the best foods for your skin:
|Citrus Fruit – oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, etc.||Up to 70 mg/serving of vitamin C – builds collagen, reduces inflammation, protects cells|
|Cantaloupe||29 mg/serving of vitamin C|
|Guava||165 mg/serving of vitamin C|
|Kiwifruit||162 mg/serving of vitamin C|
|Eggs||140 micrograms (mcg)/serving vitamin A – powerful antioxidant that helps maintain healthy cells|
|Plain Yogurt||35 mcg/serving of vitamin A|
|Chicken Liver||11,000 mcg/serving of vitamin A|
|Almonds||11 IU/serving of vitamin E – beneficial to skin health, prevents skin cell damage|
|Peanut Butter||6 IU/serving of vitamin E|
|Cooked Spinach||2.5 IU/serving of vitamin E|
|Beef||3.4 mg/serving Coenzyme Q10 – important antioxidant and a building block of the body’s tissues|
|Sardines||7.3 mg/serving of CoQ10|
And by the way, even without the extract, you can still get those phase 2 enzymes by eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts, which, as I mentioned, are now widely available in many supermarkets.
As always, I encourage you to try to buy organic, free-range, grass-fed, and minimally processed kinds of these foods whenever you can.
3) Get outside and enjoy the sun everyday you can.
A recent study published in Anticancer Research found that just by getting a little sunlight every day – about 20 minutes for fair-skinned folks, and two to four times that much for those with dark skin – you can reduce the risk of 16 types of cancer in both men and women.4
4) Try natural lotions that truly promote skin health
Look for all-natural lotions with vitamins E or C. Vitamin C is especially good for your skin. It’s been clinically proven to protect you from overexposure to both UV-A and UV-B rays, prevents age spots, and a reduction in inflammation in the skin.5
To learn more about the natural power of sunlight check out my book, Your Best Health Under the Sun. You’ll find over 250 pages of useful information to help you live a longer, healthier life…CLICK HERE.
- Talalay et al. “Sulforaphane mobilizes cellular defenses that protect skin against damage by UV Radiation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2007. 104(44): 17500-17505.
- Verhoeven et al. “A review of mechanisms underlying anticarcinogenicity by brassica vegetables.” Chemico-Biological Interactions 1997. 103:79–129 [review].
- Lautenschlager et al. “Photoprotection,” Lancet. 2007. 370(9586):528-537.
- Grant WB et al, “The association of solar ultraviolet B (UVB) with reducing risk of cancer: multifactorial ecologic analysis of geographic variation in age-adjusted cancer mortality rates,” Anticancer Research, 2006; 26:2687-2700.
- Farris PK. (2005) Topical vitamin C: a useful agent for treating photoaging and other dermatological conditions. Dermatologic Surgery; 31(7pt2): 814-17.