For most people, putting sunscreen on you or your kids seems common sense. It protects against the sun, and helps you not get skin cancer, right? Actually, there is a lot to be learned about sunscreen, and sadly, it is mostly bad news… Are you aware that there have been many recent reports from both the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Consumer Reports warning consumers against using conventional sunscreens, especially on children?
I know, SHOCKER! Read on…
Is Sunscreen Harmful?
As cancer rates continue to climb, there has been much speculation as to the cause. The most marketed reason is lack of sunscreen usage. SO many doctors and other allopathic healthcare providers have touted the benefits of sunscreen to protect against skin cancer. In fact, they are encouraging MORE, not LESS usage, and it is believed that this could be part of the problem, in fact… The issue is that there are many ingredients in most sunscreens that are carcinogenic and might play a part in developing skin cancer!
There are two ways skin screens work…
- Chemically – Changes your biology from the inside out.
- Barrier – Provides a barrier to block the rays, without changing biology.
Obviously, the barrier type is the better option. These types of sunscreens contain typically one or both of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and are the safest choice for sunscreens on the market today.
On the other hand, many chemical sunscreens use one or more chemicals including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
Here’s the deal… In general, if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your body. The simple reason is that you absorb all of those chemicals directly through your skin, which then winds up in your bloodstream.
Here are some questions to ask of these chemical sunscreen types:
- Does this chemical have the potential to disrupt hormones, especially in children?
- Does this chemical have carcinogenic effects?
- Does this chemical have the potential for an allergic reaction?
- Does this chemical have the chance of impacting any other organ system?
What is being found by the EWG is that many of these chemicals are in fact, hormone disruptors, and interfere with thyroid and other hormones in the body.
Here’s another little shocking fact… The most common sunscreen chemical, Oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This chemical is actually a proven hormone disruptor, and can reduce sperm count in men and might contribute to endometriosis in women!
Even more alarming?
Out of 1400+ sunscreens tested by the EWS, only 5% met their own safety standards, and over 40% were found to be possible contributors to skin cancer!
In addition to the abnormal, harmful chemical processes that occur when you apply the chemical type of sunscreen, another reason is that Vitamin A, which is often included in sunscreens, has been shown to speed up the growth of cancer cells by 21%!
Do you like the brand, Neutrogena? Guess what? That is the #1 offender according to the EWG. Avoid it like the plague!
So it’s clear that most sunscreens are harmful. So what role does vitamin D play in all of this?
Well, first of all, low levels of vitamin D have been correlated very closely with higher cancer rates. But sunscreen actually block the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D! So does common soap you use to wash your body. Statistically, approximately 75% of us are deficient in Vitamin D. So basically, we put sunscreen on our bodies which increases our chance for cancer, and then make sure we don’t get the protective benefit of vitamin D by blocking the suns rays and stopping the manufacture of Vitamin D. Good job us! 🙂
Sunscreen usage can be a sensitive topic. We have all been told one thing: JUST PUT IT ON! However, even professional literature has something to say about its usage…
For instance, one study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics reported that:
Sunscreens protect against sunburn, but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Problems lie in the behavior of individuals who use sunscreens to stay out longer in the sun than they otherwise would. Vitamin D inhibition is, at this stage, unlikely due to insufficient use by individuals. Safety of sunscreens is a concern, and sunscreen companies have emotionally and inaccurately promoted the use of sunscreens.
Here are the facts: Skin cancer is rising 4.2% annually, despite increased sunscreen usage, and reduced sun exposure… It doesn’t get much more clear than that… What we are doing is possibly CAUSING skin cancer, and not preventing it!
Your best bet: Mineral Sunscreens
Here are some natural mineral sunscreens that the EWG lists as safe:
- Alba Botanical Mineral Sunscreen
- Badger Mineral Sunscreen
- Babyganics Sunscreen or spray sunscreen
- All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
- Bull Frog Sunscreen
- Burt’s Bees Sunscreen Stick
- California Baby Hypoallergenic Sunscreen
- JASON Mineral Sunscreen
- Naked Turtle Mineral Sunscreen with Aloe
- Sunology Natural Sunscreen
- Raw Elements Sunscreen
- The Honest Company Sunscreen
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
The Safest Option: Cover Up
Human beings haven’t always had sunscreen. We used to do what made the most sense: cover up or stay out of the sun altogether, especially during the most intense time periods of the day. This is still the healthiest option by far. In this way, you learn to live with nature, following the patterns of the sun, being conscious of what your body is being exposed to, and still receiving the benefits of the sun, in a safe, responsible way.
Internal Sun Protection:
Something else you can do is to make sure that you are healthy on the inside. Make sure you are reducing systemic inflammation in general by avoiding processed grains and sugars.
In addition, consider these two potent vitamins:
- Vitamin D3 (Many consider 2,000- 5,000 IU/day perfect for adults)- There is a ton of evidence showing that optimizing blood levels of Vitamin D can have a protective effect against sunburn and skin cancer
- Astaxanthin – A potent antioxidant which can act as an internal sunblock. Also, super good for the eyes, and often used in maintaining eye health, especially for those who have or are predisposed to having macular degeneration.
The safest thing you can do is cover up and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Getting 15-30 minutes per day, most days, is advisable, in order to optimize vitamin D levels.
If staying out of the sun isn’t an option, then a barrier-based sunscreen is your best bet. Head over to the EWG right now to check the best sunscreens out for you and your family right here: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/
What sunscreen do you use? What is your biggest concern with sun exposure?