An expert Dermatologist, Dr Bernard Ackerman, who has published 625 research papers on skin cancer says that there is no proven link between sun exposure and melanoma. And people with melanoma have it on less exposed body areas.
Queensland has the highest rates of melanoma per capita than anywhere in the world. Research shows that the greatest rise in melanoma is seen in countries/areas where chemical sunscreens are most heavily promoted and advertised, and not due to changes in the ozone layer.
In the Cancer Epidemiology Markers and Prevention Journal in 2011, 49000 women were studied over 15 years, and the research showed that there was no evidence of cumulative UV exposure increasing the risk of skin cancer. In the same journal in 2011, 38000 women were studied over 15 years, concluding that sun exposure reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and dying from any cause, but there was an increased risk of dying from solarium use.
Let's have a look at a sunscreen recommended and sold in Australia from the Cancer Council - one would think a reputable source for a good product?! Well, it appears not... Some of the chemicals in their sunscreens include (source: http://skinhealth.com.au/blog/product/everyday/):
Phenoxyethanol - a preservative. Unfortunately this is a neurotoxin and shown to affect the nervous system, causes dermatitis, causes reproductive damage and genetic damage (ie, cancer), according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Hydroxybenzoates - a paraben, antioxidant, antimicrobial and preservative. This chemical can cause skin irritation and allergies. Parabens are oestrogen hormone mimicking chemicals that have hormone interfering effects on the body, and have been linked to breast cancer development and growth.
Benzyl alcohol - a preservative. This chemical can irritate the skin and over time can cause allergic dermatitis, and is very dangerous for very young children as it has caused some deaths in premature babies. It can also break down into other chemicals, one of which is formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemical.
Not only do sunscreens cause skin cancer from giving you a false sense of security outside in the sun (they allow you to spend more time being exposed to the cancer-causing UV-A radiation and not getting burnt) but they also contain chemicals which can directly cause cancer too...
If you can't regularly get out into the sun, then vitamin D from food the next best option, particularly fish liver oils such as cod liver oil. Very few other foods actually contain vitamin D3. Some plant foods contain vitamin D2 but this isn't as usable in the body. You can also get vitamin D as a supplement, such as Vitamin D3 (not D2!) which can be taken as a tablet, capsule, liquid or oral spray. See your health practitioner or myself for any questions!
From recent research, it is clear that we need vitamin D from sunlight for many benefits to our health and we should not be scared of going out in the sun. Check the table in the attached picture to see how much sun exposure you should get for optimal vitamin D levels without burning. Also, avoid the toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in most commercial sunscreens and either use a natural one from your local health food store, or look for a recipe online for a safe and effective sunscreen using coconut oil!