What’s The Truth About Sunscreen?

SunscreenAs with any health issue, relevant studies must be examined closely to reach balanced conclusions about its impact on our health and well-being. Often, risk determinations are made without considering actual hazards and real-life exposures. It is in our best interest to become informed as consumers and make pure, natural and simple choices to protect our health and longevity.

There is a substantial body of evidence that shows that there is an increase in cancer when sunscreen products are used. Both chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, methoxycinnamate, padimate-o) and physical sunblocks (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) have been found to generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations. Furthermore, sunscreen chemicals have been found to pass through the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen, which may disrupt the delicate balance of the body´s natural hormones.

The following excerpt is taken from a book called “Sunscreen Photobiology—Molecular, Cellular and Physiological Aspects” (Francis P. Gasparro, Springer Verlag, Pub.): “Illumination of titanium dioxide suspensions with sunlight can degrade organic materials and purify drinking water, while illumination with short wave UV kills human cells. This work shows that the distinction between ‘chemical’ sunscreens and ‘physical’ sunscreens, attractive though it may be to those who market them, is not based on any significant difference. Both varieties have the potential to produce reactive species that can attack biological materials (human skin cells) when they are exposed to normal sunlight. What is established is that particles of titanium dioxide as large as 220 nm can enter human cells in culture, and so it seems entirely plausible that if titanium dioxide does pass through skin it could enter cells under the skin (carrying with it the absorbed UVA and UVB radiation and hydroxyl radicals).”

Other studies show that cytotoxicity (danger to the cell) was dependent on the particle size of titanium dioxide. The smaller the particle size, the more toxic it is. This conclusion is relevant to the consumer because of the consumer’s insistence on (and subsequently, the cosmetics industry’s response to), the use of micronized pigments in sunscreens and color cosmetics. Nano particles of titanium dioxide are used in sunscreens because they are colorless (no big schmear of white goop on your face – how unhip!) at that size, and still absorb ultraviolet light.

Lastly, an unintended consequence of the “successful” campaign to get people using sunscreen: over 5 metric tons of sunscreen are washed off swimmers into the world’s oceans every year. The highly toxic nature of one of the main ingredients in sunscreen (Benzophenone-3), has been shown to prime the growth of a deadly virus in coral reef. The dangers are greatest, of course, where the most swimmers are drawn to the beauty of coral reefs.

Simply put: small amounts of sun are healthy. We need the absorption of Vitamin D to help strong bone growth, and to help our bodies process calcium. We need to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of sun shining through depleted ozone. The natural “solution”: adults and children should remain indoors (at work and school or play) during the hottest part of the day, and when they venture out they should be sure to cover themselves properly. Schedule gardening, errands, play, etc., for early morning or evening hours. Our recommendation for protection: Loose-fitting clothing, shady trees and big floppy hats. Organic cotton is a good way to go. And choose sunscreens with zinc oxide at the main ingredient, no nano particles of titanium dioxide in them, with a plethora of organic, plant-based ingredients (aloe, green tea, grapeseed oil) and no Benzophenone-3.