We are all encouraged to use sunscreen and avoid harsh sunlight for fear of sun cancers. There has been a lot of media attention directed by the various cancer foundations as well as the manufacturers of the sunscreen products in the hope to gain a market share of the multi-million dollar industry.
Consider some of the chemicals in sunscreens, as many have not been sufficiently tested for safety.
Oxybenzone has been detected in human breast milk and in 97% of the 2,500 US citizens tested for the chemical by the US Centre for Disease Control & Prevention in 2005. This chemical is also known to be a hormone disruptor and can be found in over 600 sunscreens sold in the US.
Oxybenzone is a penetration enhancer; helps to deliver other chemicals in the product deeper into the skin layers where they may enter the bloodstream. Not only does this chemical cause cell damage, it is rapidly oxidised in light and inactivates the skins’ natural protection system.
It appears that females have the highest reading for this chemical, which stands to reason, as they are more likely to use a sunscreen to protect against the ageing effects of the sun.
In 2006, research teams from the University of California-Riverside found 2 coastal fish species had been feminized by oxybenzone with two thirds of the males carrying ovary tissue.
Octyl-methoxycinnamate is a hormone disruptor as well as a penetration enhancer. It produces free radicals. The ‘oxy’ in the word indicates the chemical has been ethoxylated during manufacture meaning it could be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a potent carcinogen.
Butyl-Methdiebenzoylmethane, also listed as Avobenzone degrades in sunlight within an hour to become ineffective as a sunscreen chemical. It rapidly converts light into chemical energy releasing free radicals into the body.
Titanium Dioxide has not had sufficient testing to be regarded as entirely safe. Studies have shown DNA damage from exposure to this chemical when exposed to light.
Nanoparticles are increasingly used in many cosmetics, including sunscreens where the relatively new technology has been used to create such ingredients as ‘invisible zinc’.
This means the zinc loses it reflective property and could be absorbed into the skin and the blood stream. Scientists warn chemicals with a molecular size so small this type of absorption could result in the ‘next asbestos’.
There are no regulations to list nanoparticles on labels, so consumers may be unaware the products they choose may contain these type of ingredients..
As sales of sunscreen have risen, so have the rates of skin cancer. Caution should be used to avoid over exposure, but as an increasing number of people show vitamin D deficiency, it may be that the pendulum has swung to far the other way.
Recently, synthetic vitamin D supplements in the form of pills have been promoted.
Safe sun exposure, out side the middle of the day promotes the natural manufacture of Vitamin D within the body, without the need to pop a pill!
There are safer sunscreen products, when we learn to read labels and become discerning consumers rather than be taken in by the marketing hype and the scare mongers against natural, safe sun light exposure and who also promote synthetic chemical laden products.