Health Impacts of Sunscreen Found To Be Worse Than UV Damage
It has long been known that sunscreen products are detrimental to our health. But how bad? And what is worse: UV damage, chemical sunscreens or mineral sunscreens? Would there be any alternative ways to protect the skin against UV rays, without necessarily hiding behind an umbrella all day?
Safe sun protection seems like another topic overloaded with information, where nothing seems quite clear. This article makes sense of the whole issue by gathering independent scientific data from worldwide sources and linking it to how your body reacts to sunscreen ingredients and UV rays. While undertaking this research, we’ve even discovered alternative and natural ways to protect your skin against UV rays!
Over the past decade, dozens of studies from third-party scientific groups have examined the potential health hazards of sunscreen chemicals that permeate the skin. Sunscreen’s active ingredients are present in large concentrations in order to filter UVA and UVB rays, and their repeated application over large portions of the skin means that the body absorbs high concentrations of toxic chemicals. Sunscreen ingredients are well known to cause poisoning, hormone disruption, degenerative changes in cells of the skin, DNA damage, free-radical generation leading to premature ageing, a compromised immune system and increased risk of melanoma.
“The ideal sunscreen would completely block UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours. It would not form harmful ingredients when degraded by sunlight. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people would use more of it. No sunscreen meets these goals. Consumers must choose between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone system, and “mineral” sunscreens, made with zinc and titanium, often “micronized” or containing nano-particles.”
Chemical sunscreens deserve special awareness, as they are known to permeate the skin. Chemical sunscreens typically include a combination of three to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
Laboratory studies indicate that these chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight, mimicking estrogen and disrupting the body’s hormone (endocrine) system. Research suggests that oxybenzone, 4-MBC and octinoxate are also toxic to human reproductive systems and interfere with normal development.
In North-America, oxybenzone is found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detected oxybenzone in more than 96 percent of the U.S. population, with higher concentrations found during the summer months. Other studies have detected common sunscreen chemicals in breast milk, which affects the normal development of fetuses and newborns.
Furthermore, a United States FDA report entitled ‘Medications that Increase Sensitivity to Light’ indicates that many agents commonly used in chemical sunscreens – including benzophenones, PABA, cinnamates, salicylates, anthranilates, PSBA, mexenone, and oxybenzone – increase photosensitivity or have photo-reactive agents in them. This means that applying these chemicals to your body during periods of sun exposure actually heightens the body’s reactivity to UV radiation and increases the risk of skin cancer.
In the mainstream media, mineral sunscreens are portrayed as the safe alternative to chemical sunscreens. In fact, once exposed to sunlight, mineral filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have been found to undergo a chemical reaction that releases free radicals in the body, damaging surrounding cells. Free radicals cause cell and DNA damage, premature ageing and increase the risk of skin cancer.
According to the environmental working group, “mineral sunscreen could pose a risk of skin damage if manufacturers do not select forms that are coated with inert chemicals to reduce photoactivity”. In other words, they use chemicals to alter the hazardous effects of mineral filters breaking down in sunlight. This is a problem: there is absolutely no research on chemicals used to reduce the photoreactivity of mineral sunscreens.
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