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Whether you are new to TACOMA HEALTH or an established patient, we understand that many of you have important questions that need to be answered. We have carefully composed a list of our patients' most frequently asked questions about all topics regarding being a patient here at TACOMA HEALTH. Please take a moment to carefully read over these questions and see if your inquiry may be in the answers provided.

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Summer Fun in the SUN… right around the corner!
May 2009
There is little scientific evidence to justify the many health campaigns that urge you to completely avoid the sun.  In fact, the sun is healthy for you. After all, your ancestors survived outdoors, working outside under the sun's rays far more often than they were indoors and out of the sun. That's not to say though, that too much of a good thing can't be harmful.
 What you should know about UVA and UVB rays
Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths -- UVA and UVB of which 95% come from UVA. It's important to understand the difference between them, and the risk factors from each.
Consider UVB the 'good guy' -- though of course you can't de-select UVA if you're going to be in the sun.  UVB helps your skin produce vitamin D but it also is responsible for the burns associated with sunshine and can cause premature skin aging, and skin cancer like UVA.
UVA is considered the 'bad guy' because it penetrates your skin more deeply and causes more free radical damage which means premature skin aging and skin cancer.  Not only that, but UVA rays are constant during all the hours of daylight throughout the entire year. By comparison, UVB waves are low in morning and evening and high at midday.
How Sunscreens Keep You from Enjoying the Many Benefits of the Sun’s Healthy Rays
Wearing sunscreen on your skin blocks your body's production of vitamin D. In fact, sunscreens reduce vitamin D production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9%. And interfering with your body's production of vitamin D by 97.5 to 99.9% may have dire health consequences.
After all, vitamin D plays a crucial role in your overall health and well-being such as:
·         Help maintain a healthy immune system
·         Supports cardiovascular system
·         Promote optimal cholesterol levels
·         Enhances muscle strength
·         Optimal blood pressure levels
·         Support healthy kidney function
·         Promote healthy teeth and strong bones
The BEST way to get it is from natural sunlight. As soon as the sun's ultraviolet rays strike your skin, it starts producing its own natural vitamin D in the most active form available- calciferol, also known as vitamin D3.   Optimal vitamin D levels have been shown to protect against as many as sixteen different types of cancer, including breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, ovarian, bladder, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, and renal cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Toxic Sunscreens
Hundreds of sunscreens are toxic because they contain man-made chemicals ... chemicals which can cause serious health problems and increase your risk of disease. The main chemical used in sunscreens to filter out ultraviolet B light is octyl methoxycinnamate. OMC for short. OMC was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses.  Plus, it was also shown to be particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. And guess what? OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands!
Furthermore, several studies show that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your blood stream.  
The sun's ultraviolet spectrum ranges from 290 nanometers (nm) to 400 nm, with UVB rays at the lower end and UVA rays at the higher end. Broad spectrum protection refers to sunscreen products that contain ingredients that protect against UVB and UVA rays of 360 nm or above. Avobenzone and zinc oxide are the only FDA-approved sunscreen active ingredients that provide broad spectrum protection throughout the entire UV spectrum.   Only Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide are recommended as safe sun screens.
So, if your sunscreen contains any of the following chemicals that are considered dangerous and potentially life threatening THROW THEM AWAY! After all, your skin is your largest organ.
·         Para amino benzoic acid
·         Octyl salicyclate
·         Avobenzone
·         Oxybenzone
·         Cinoxate
·         Padimate O
·         Dioxybenzone
·         Phenylbenzimidazole
·         Homosalate
·         Sulisobenzone
·         Menthyl anthranilate
·         Trolamine salicyclate
·         Octocrylene
Source: Dr. Joseph Mercola
Dr. Iverson's Comment
It is the season to be aware of the sun! Spring is here and summer is coming! Really though, thank God the sun is finally here because we have had enough rain and clouds right?!
I was taught by my mentors from the beginning of my training that the sun is the source of LIFE on this planet! Truly what would we do without it?  Nothing would exist. Nothing! So, if we look to Nature, we can see that it must have a purpose for us as well. My teachers taught me that the sun for us is essential… but too much of a good thing is not always good!
They taught me a piece of advice and it is just this simple…DO NOT GET BURNED! They did not recommend sunscreens because they lived in a time when sunscreens were not common place. They instead recommended a little sunshine bit by bit, day by day until the body had become accustomed to the higher rays and the skin could tolerate more and more. That means if you could only tolerate a few minutes the first day…then that is ALL YOU TOLERATE!  
They recommended that each day you increase your total time until you were able to be in the sun for longer periods without receiving a burn. That means a few minutes the first day, a few more the next and a few more the next. A little difficult here in the northwest!  
That is why often I will recommend using tanning beds just for us living in the clouds—yeah, can you believe it? —Tanning beds! They can serve a healthful purpose if utilized properly.  For those who have sensitive skin, a tanning bed can accustom the skin to handle longer periods of UVB natural sunlight without the sunscreen. Again you want to treat tanning beds like the sun and only go for short periods, a little at a time, day by day. The idea is to obtain an unlimited monthly membership and then you go for as little or as long as you can tolerate, but you go very often, every day if needed.  
You must be careful with tanning beds though. They have a higher ratio of UVA to UVB with about 3-8 times more UVA than natural sunlight. The UVA rays cosmetically create the tan but have a greater chance of damaging deep skin tissue. UVB is more likely to create burns but also has the important ability to convert vitamin D in the skin. UVB is our best clue that we are getting sun damage as we notice ourselves burning if we are in the sun too long. Unfortunately, tanning beds can cause more unseen and unfelt damage because they have less UVB rays so you aren’t feeling the burn.
Remember that UVA is the same throughout the entire year and it can be just as damaging as the UVB but it does not convert Vitamin D in the skin. The only way you can avoid UVA is if you are a mole or a bat! (of course you may not have disclosed this on your patient forms J )
Also, there is an understanding that the best times of the day to sunbathe are in the early mornings or in the late afternoon. Well, if you have as many of the Scandinavian or Old English genes as me, then you are someone who should heed this advice. 
UVB rays are not as intense in the morning or late afternoon which means you can slowly accustom your skin to the change in seasons without getting burned. However, the most intense UVB rays are in the afternoon and this is when Vitamin D is the most intensely converted in the skin. If you have a darker skin pigment, you already have a natural sunscreen called melanin in your skin. This was your ancestor’s natural protection from the sun. You should look at getting your sunshine during the afternoon when the sun is at its highest. Darker skinned people will have higher chances of vitamin D deficiency when living in a cloudy climate because they already have a natural sunscreen which blocks out the little sun available.
Overall, start low and work your way up, and do not get burned! Choose a protection cream that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as its main protecting ingredient. Especially look for one that has natural plant antioxidants like green tea, or milk thistle, grape seed/ pycnogenol, or vitamins A, C or E in it. This is what the plant uses to protect itself from the sun. In fact, I recommend taking these plant antioxidants orally as well throughout the entire year to protect your body from excess oxidation from sun, toxins, and other chemicals that cause premature aging.
Finally get your vitamin D levels checked. Out of the hundreds of tests we have ran in the past couple years I would say that only about 10% of those patients living in our area have levels in the optimal range (50-80 ng/ml). If you are not at this level, consider a supplement to help support the vitamin D, which is now being recognized as a VERY IMPORTANT hormone for hundreds of physiological functions.
Happy Tanning!
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