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What they don't tell you about Sunscreen


With summer comes lots of outside time and sun exposure. Sunscreen is a must because of skin cancer, premature aging, and sunburn. But have you ever wondered why or how sunscreen works? What ingredients go into them to make them effective?


Out of over 1,400 sunscreens that were tested, only 5% achieved safety standards and over 40% are listed as potential triggers that contribute to skin cancer.


Recent studies show that oxybenzone, triclosan, parabens, and phthalates, all common in sunscreen have the ability to disrupt the function of hormones. Studies show that when adolescents switch to cleaner products without these compounds, the levels of these chemicals in their systems dropped dramatically.


Oxybenzone, a particularly problematic ingredient, is found in about 70 percent of all sunscreens and can cause hormone disruptions and potential cell damage. It seems to inhibit cell growth and interferes in the process of DNA synthesis as well. Potentially this could cause genetic mutations in the future. Studies have linked oxybenzone to endometriosis in older women and women with higher levels of oxybenzone during pregnancy had lower birth weight daughters. In addition, when Oxybenzone is combined with other chemicals it can increase the risk of breast cancer and promotes skin tumors and lesions.


The damage that these chemicals do can cause the growth of cancer cells. The genetic mutations that they cause could potentially lead to the development of cancers. Benzophenones, another chemical popular in sunscreen, can imitate the effects of excess estrogen in the body, increasing the risk of developing diseases such as breast cancer.


Retinyl Palmitate or Vitamin A Palmitate is a substance used in many skin care products due to the fact that it is an antioxidant that reduces aging. However, research shows that rats that were treated with vitamin A formulation topically showed a faster spread of skin tumors and lesions.


Most of us use sunscreen out of fear because we believe exposure to the sun will cause skin cancer. The truth is that only 10% of cancer cases are attributed to any kind of radiation and out of that UV accounts for very little. In fact, studies suggest that some exposure to the sun can help prevent the development and spread of skin cancer. In fact, patients with melanoma seem to show a higher likelihood of survival and remission if they get occasional sun exposure.


A recent study showed that within a single day of sunscreen application, the level of toxic chemicals in the body exceeded the maximum allowable limit. As an example, blood concentrations of oxybenzone were more than 180 times the FDA’s level of concern after a single application of sunscreen. In the days to come as the person continued to use sunscreen, the blood levels of these chemicals increased. They soared to more than 500 times the FDA’s level of concern after 4 days of regular sunscreen use. Three weeks later, not having applied any sunscreen during those three weeks, the blood tests continued to show higher levels of oxybenzone, though it was much lower than at the start of the study.


There are natural sunscreen alternatives that come with no harmful side effects. Such as mineral-based sunscreens. The minerals typically used in “mineral” based sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. While both ingredients occur naturally, they can also be produced synthetically, and sunscreen companies may market them as “mineral” sunscreens but still include synthetic chemicals.


I’ve taken the time to research sunscreens and found a brand that is made with Zinc Oxide, is organic and has no chemically added ingredients! Click here to check it out.


I guess the lesson we learn, yet again, is that just because something is on the store shelf doesn’t mean it’s safe. If you would like to learn more about sunscreen and some of the studies that have been done on it, here is a link to a WebMD article.


Happy Healthy Summer!


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