Sunscreen – Buyer Beware

Sunscreen – Buyer Beware

The weather people say we can expect a “Sunless Summer” for the most part.  They are predicting an odd weather pattern that will leave us with few sunny days over the summer.  Let’s hope they are wrong, like they are 90% of the time!

That being said, since most of you will reach for sunscreen on the sunny days, you should be made aware of the following regarding the dangers
that lurk in your “mainstream” sunscreens.  Whether it’s the water you drink, the makeup you put on your beautiful face every day, the detergent you wash your clothes in, you must be aware of the toxic chemicals that dwell in these products and how they effect your cells,
DNA and overall health.  Buyer Beware has never been truer than it
is today!

For decades, irresponsible cosmetic companies and a small group of very vocal, publicity-seeking dermatologists have strongly advocated that chemical sunscreens  should be heavily applied before any exposure to sunlight, even on young children. They insisted that such sunscreen use would prevent skin cancer and protect your health. This was despite of a lack of any adequate safety testing of these chemicals. (It should be emphasized that most dermatologists are much more cautious and careful.)

On the other hand, over the past decade, many scientists studying cancer have come to virtually the opposite conclusion; that is, the use of sunscreen chemicals may be increasing the incidence of cancer and that sunlight exposure may actually decrease human cancer rates and improve your health.

Chemical Sunscreens and their 3 Deadly Sins

Here’s a list of some chemicals found in Sunscreens:

Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)
PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB,  glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA)
Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate)
Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)
Digalloyl trioleate
Menthyl anthranilate

Avobenzone [butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane; Parsol 1789]

1st Sin – Free Radical Production
All the above chemicals are powerful free radical agents.  Benzophenone is used in industrial processes to initiate chemical reaction.  When Benzophenone hits ultraviolet light,  it’s chemical structure breaks down and starts a chain reaction with other molecules thus causing damage to fats, proteins and DNA of the cells. The type of damages seen range from, aging of the skin to the development of cancer.  It’s to be noted that chemicals like  Benzophenone, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone and Dioxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical agents on planet earth, that’s scary.

2nd Sin – Estrogenic Activity
Even worse for your health is the fact that many chemical sunscreens are xenoestrogens (Zee- no – estrogens). Basically xenoestrogens mimics estrogen( the key female sex hormone).  The problem is they’ve been  linked to reproductive disorders in males such as:
  • Lower sperm count
  • Undescended testicles
  • Higher rates of Testicular cancers
  • Breast Enlargement Problems also exist within the female reproductive system such as:
  • Endometriosis
  • Severe PMS
  • Increased Breast and Uterine Cancer
  • Erratic Periods
  • Uterine Cysts
  • Migraines
Government regulations require that new chemicals pass screening tests to determine that they don’t cause cancer. But no rules yet require similar testing of chemicals for effects on reproductive hormones.
3rd Sin – Toxic Breeding Ground
The human body is well adapted to package, transfer, remove and de-toxify biologicals that it has been exposed to over tens of millions of years. However, it has an extremely difficult time removing non-biologicals that we’ve just recently been exposed to such as DDT, Dioxins, PCBS and the chemical components in suncreensThese chemical sunscreens along with other harmful additives such as EDTA, TEA and Parabens form a potent bomb that penetrates the skin in minutes, delivering these toxins deep in your cells, at which point it’s almost impossible to remove them.

What can you do to protect yourself?
  1. Inform yourself - Do not assume because something is on a store shelf that it will not cause you harm.  In fact, during the 1970′s Professor Howard Maibach warned that 35% of the chemicals in sunscreens would pass through the skin and into the bloodstream, but his observations fell on deaf ears. This largely due to companies not wanting to destroy their stockpiles of chemicals.  That would cost them too much money. It was only in 1997 that countries in Europe, Canada and Australia, finally banned numerous chemicals and just allowed 3 specific ingredients, Titanium and Zinc Oxide and Avobenzone, at least it’s a start. At this writing there’s some new ingredients that companies are using, but  we don’t know how safe they will be in the long run.
  2. Choose Safer Sunscreens- There’s a whole new breed of Sunscreens that not only are UVA and UVB safe but they contain ingredients that help repair your skin after tanning. Take a trip to the local health food store, here you will find many options, but still read the label.  It’s your best bet on protecting you and your family.
  3. Tolerance-Start by tanning 10-15minutes a day without sunscreen.  Increase your time by 5-10 minutes a day. Try tanning either early in the morning or late in the day to avoid the hottest times of the day, in the afternoon.
  4. Vitamin D – Consume more rich Vitamin D foods such as egg yolks, fatty fishes, to name a few. You can also consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.
  5. Clothing - Wear light, yet tightly woven clothing that blocks out the light, to protect your skin during the hottest times of the day, between 10-3pm.  You can also wear protective sunglasses and  hat.
  1. Boris

    Hi Sandra,
    Can you recommend a particular brand of safe(r) sunblock you mention, especially for kids?

  2. Bootcamp Goddess
    Bootcamp Goddess06-06-2010

    HI Boris,

    Anything you can find at a health food store is better than what you would find in a mainstream store. I like Organic Garage the best, they have several options for sunscreens for kids and adults. Zinc Oxide is always a good bet for ears, nose, back of neck. You can buy zinc oxide these days which disappears into the skin. The benefit of that is it’s a single ingredient item which is always good.

    With my kids, I would just keep a hat on then at all time, and covered up as much as possible. Hope this helps!

  3. Boris

    Zinc oxide is a great idea, I never would have thought of that, ha!


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