Are sunscreens safe?



Memorial day has come and gone, children are now jumping in the swimming pool, an unofficial start of summer.   With summer comes more sun exposure and with more sun exposure comes a higher probably of skin cancer or does it?

Since I can remember there has always been an advertisement, a person, a sign indicating that sun causes cancer; the recommendation has mostly be to put sunscreen on and avoid long exposure to sun specially during peak hours.  But, have you ever wonder if this is just a fear created by the sunscreen and cancer industry along with social media masquerading the truth about  skin cancer? what if skin cancer was not directly linked to the sun being the culprit?  It seems skin cancer has not been accurately tested for root cause analysis, but rather been thrown into the ‘sun exposure’ category as the cause.

Given the fact that the FDA lacks a standard and rigorous testing for products being released out in the market, I am grateful for the  independent and non-profit organizations performing lab studies bringing things to light. There are products that we use everyday that have a higher probability of being linked to skin cancer than the sun.  These products are toxic and full of harmful chemicals, including sunscreens.

Additives and preservatives

There are several ingredients found in most common sunscreens that might be harmful to humans.  Studies have been surfacing lately proving these ingredients might be toxic not only to coral reef and other sea life but to humans as well.  Organizations such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have performed lab studies where chemicals used in sunscreen may act as endocrine disruptors by mimicking hormones and causing skin allergies. (Source)

The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. A handful of products combine zinc oxide with chemical filters.

The chemicals to be most concerned about are Oxybenzoe and Octinoxate.  Oxybenzoe is a synthetic estrogen, an endocrine disruptor, causing possible reproductive, neurologic and thyroid hormone effects. Oxybenzoe, as a photcarcinogen,  it’s demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack DNA cells; for this reason, it is believed to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of melanoma cases with sunscreen users.

Some studies have shown it to behave similarly to the hormone estrogen, suggesting that it may cause breast cancer. It has also been linked to contact eczema. For many years, the dangers were ignored on the assumption that oxybenzone didn’t get absorbed by the skin. A team of researchers in Australia, led by Cameron Hayden, demonstrated otherwise using commercially available sunscreen, their conclusion was the use of oxybenzone is inadvisable for large surface area application for extended and repeated periods. Recommendation has been that parents keep their small children from using products containing the ingredient oxybenzone. (Source)

According to the EWG, Octinoxate is a moderate hazard, primarily because it can lead to developmental and reproductive toxicity through enhanced skin absorption. It’s a penetration enhancer and is easily absorbed into the skin. It can produce estrogen-like effects and should not be used by pregnant women and children.

Read more about sunscreen and how the chemicals in sunscreen affect reproduction and development by altering reproductive and thyroid hormones here.

There are some arguments that suggest the harmful effects of any of these chemicals are minimal to the human body and not to be of any concern, but just think about all the products we are using daily along with with all the toxins in our environment as well as the food we are consuming, little by little it starts accumulating.  Also, keep in mind that many years ago research showed that smoking didn’t cause cancer, and well, here we are now.

Some tips for using Sun wisely:
  • According to Mercola, get your fill of vitamin D (skin turns the lightest shade of pink), then cover up.  Cotton clothing provides about SPF 15
  • When being expose to sun longer, choose a safe sunscreen that contain either zinc or titanium minerals, not oxybenzone or octinoxate.  Avoid vitamin A
  • Consume a healthy diet full of natural antioxidants.  Raw, unprocessed foods deliver the nutrients that your body needs to maintain a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 oils in your skin, which is your fist one of defense against sunburn
  • Fresh, raw vegetables also provide your body with an abundance of powerful antioxidants that will help you fight the free radicals caused by sun damage that can lead to burns and cancer

According to EWG, these are the best scoring sunscreen lotions for kids:



More on EWG best sunscreen lotions for kids


Do you know there is also a correlation of lack of vitamin D and sunscreen.  Your skin is not able to produce vitamin D from the sun exposure when you apply sunscreen on your body.  Vitamin D is the key to preventing numerous types of cancer, including melanoma.  This is insane, we wear sunscreen to protect us from the sun which can cause cancer, but the sunscreen we are using actually blocks the production of vitamin D that can help us fight the harmful chemicals which are contain within the sunscreen that might actually cause skin cancer…phew! good grief!

Read more about the importance of vitamin D and how the sun can help you protect your from skin cancer here.


3 chemicals in sunscreen




Please note any information written in this blog are my opinions and viewpoints, based on my experience and research. They should not be considered medical advice and are not a substitute for seeking medical attention from your doctor or your child’s own doctor. If you have concerns regarding your or your family’s health, diagnosis, or treatment, always see a doctor. If you feel you have a medical emergency, call 911.

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