Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sunscreen Safety

It may be surprising, but according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer "sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun." There is much debate in the scientific community about the efficacy and safety of sunscreens. Most conventional sunscreens actually do more harm than good. They contain many synthetic chemicals, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. These can be especially serious for babies and young children who tend to wear sunscreen more frequently and in higher amounts than their parents and other adults. The following are common and dangerous sunscreen ingredients:

*Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate): A common sunscreen ingredient that is photocarcinogenic. This means that when it is exposed to light, including sunlight, it speeds cancer growth. In a study conducted by the FDA, lab rats coated in .5% vitamin A cream developed cancer 21% faster than the control group.

*Nanoparticles: Most conventional sunscreens contain nanoparticles which penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. These particles, such as Oxybenzone, can disrupt hormones.

Another issue with sunscreen is that it blocks the rays which stimulate the creation of Vitamin D. Vitamin D created in the body is in a different form than vitamin D in supplements. The vitamin D created by our bodies is vitamin d3 sulfate and the vitamin D3 in supplements is unsulfated. Supplements are not a very good replacement for naturally obtained vitamin D. On top of this, sufficient vitamin D levels have been found to lower cancer risk by up to 77%, but unfortunately approximately 70% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

The cause of sunburn must also be considered. The body creates its own natural sun protection when it is properly nourished. A diet including plenty of vegetables, berries and micro-algae will help prevent sunburn. Green tea, black tea, fish oil and cocao have also been found to help prevent sunburn. Of course, the body has its natural breaking point, so you want to make sure to protect your skin before you burn. Get your vitamin D levels tested and get enough sun to maintain appropriate vitamin D levels. If you plan to spend an extensive amount of time in the sun, prevent sunburn first by proper clothing and shade, and then with a natural sunscreen. But remember, not all natural sunscreens are created equal. Avoid nanoparticles and vitamin A, which are often included in natural sunscreens, particularly nano Zinc Oxide and/or nano Titanium Dioxide. Check out the rating of the sunscreen you choose on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. I recommend Badger Balm sunscreen. It is natural, made with non-nano zinc oxide and organic oils such as olive oil and jojoba oil. It works very well!


Sunscreens Exposed: 9 Surprising Truths

Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer

Five Foods To Protect From Sunburn and Skin Cancer

Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep
Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention: Strengths and Limits of the Evidence

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