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Sunscreen Causes Cancer?

This month, many kids will graduate or finish up their final obligations for the academic year. Families will plan long-anticipated vacations to the beach, the country, and other favourite destinations where they’ll hopefully get a rest from the stress of daily life. They are usually looking for lots of sun. You love the sun, but not all of what it does to your skin. Did you know that solar radiation is classified as a known human carcinogen in the US Report on Carcinogens?

Sunlight activates processes necessary for good health. Sunlight is necessary for healthy teeth and bones and, as many winter-weary souls can tell us, it’s also important for our emotional well-being. Unfortunately, too much sunlight without proper protection can accelerate aging as well as causing other damage – including sun burns, melanomas (skin cancers), DNA damage, suppressed skin cell immunity and other illnesses.

While there has been an increase in the lifetime risk of developing invasive melanoma (in 1935, the risk was 1 in 500; it is now 1 in 55), this is often attributed to a number of factors, including longer lifespans (the sun damage that leads to skin cancers generally accumulates over time); the thinning ozone layer, which allows greater amounts of harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to penetrate the earth’s atmosphere; the increased popularity of outdoor activities; clothing styles that leave more skin exposed.

However, as the WHO 2012 Report points out, it can also be attributed to many of the ingredients used in products such as sunscreens, and to their increased use. Not surprisingly in our ‘sun-drenched’ country, most people think about the damaging effects of the sun’s rays, not their sunscreen.

How Could Sunscreen Cause Cancer?

Who would think that your sunscreen might actually cause cancer? It just doesn’t make sense.

It has been only a fairly recent development, but it still could cause some serious shock when people discover that conventional sunscreens, found in both stores and pharmacies nationally and internationally, could be a potential risk factor for skin cancer. Along with the arrival of the hot summer sun, so are the latest sunscreen controversies. Research already shows that ingredients in many sunscreens could actually put you at higher risk for developing skin cancer and other medical issues.

Surely sunscreens are made to protect and help your body, so why are we finding out from so many sources, that sunscreen causes cancer? It could be simply widespread ignorance, or it could be that the authorities have kept this secret under wraps for at least several decades? Dr Axe wrote in ‘75% of Sunscreens are Toxic’ that four different studies conducted back in the 1990’s indicated a higher risk of malignant melanoma among individuals who used the most sunscreen, while Australian Government studies sill refuse to see evidence of sunscreens causing any health issues.

Researchers at the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit, released their annual report claiming nearly half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer. In the EWG 2014 guide to safe sunscreens, they reviewed over 2000 sunscreens and over 257 brands and found more than 75% of the sunscreens contained toxic chemicals that can increase your risk of cancer and other health issues. Here’s the research from the EWG:

“Our review … shows that some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood, and some have toxic effects. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like estrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation.”

The many reports on the dangers of ingredients in sunscreens have been now added to by that of the European Environment Agency (EEA), who recently examined several decades worth of scientific research with regard to chemicals found in common household products. They discovered that not only are there potentially harmful ingredients in the creams themselves, they also contain phthalates, which are used to make plastics, and parabens found in sunscreen, both of which may be contributing to rising incidence of cancer, reduced fertility and obesity.

So not only are there potentially harmful ingredients in sunscreens themselves [ie: in one lot of research, out of 500 sunscreens tested, only 39 sunscreens were recommended – the reasoning is they believe 461 of the sunscreens tested contained chemicals that could cause skin cancer], but the containers are leaving hidden carcinogens that might cause even more harm.

Studies conducted indicate the dangers of certain chemical compounds within sunscreen could be causing a variety of skin damaging ailments, especially when reacting with the sun’s intensive heat. Only about 8 percent of all sunscreens have been quality tested by the FDA to be both safe and effective for the intended use, whereas the other 92 percent contain at least one (if not many more) of the ingredients designated as detrimental for human use, further adding to the worry if sunscreen causes cancer.

So, now that there has been some research showing sunscreen causes cancer, the question remains: what will people do about it? As well as the above alarming information, we are warned to be careful when shopping for so-called “natural” sunscreen products. Many are just examples of greenwashing, where they use terms like “natural” or “organic” but still contain loads of synthetic, or potentially harmful chemicals anyway.

This is not good news, and leaves many people high and dry on the sand, wondering what to do.

Firstly, Is Sunscreen Protection Really a Necessity?

Have you ever wondered if you even need to use sunscreen in the first place? The EWG note that for decades, both sunscreen manufacturers and users assumed that preventing or delaying sunburn would also avert other damage, such as skin cancer. Today, many experts realize that both UVA and UVB exposure may contribute to melanoma risk (Donawho 1996, Garland 2003, Godar 2009, Setlow 1993).

Living in Australia, it’s definitely worthwhile protecting yourself against UV light. There are two kinds of UV rays produced by the sun that can damage your skin. UVA stands for the longer sun rays (340nm-400nm) found to cause cancer and accelerate ageing. UVB rays are shorter (290-320nm) and are called the “burning rays”. UVB rays rays penetrate the top layer of skin, the epidermis and are the rays that cause a sunburn, but most sunscreens protect against UVB light. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the second layer, the dermis, causing damage at deeper levels of the skin and inflicting DNA damage later, leading to skin cancers. UVA rays also synthesize with UVB rays to cause the burning factor.

We personally live in sunny Queensland looking east, north east, over the ocean. We’ve watched amazed, as fabric furniture and book covers have faded over the years. None of them ever seeing the sunlight or getting direct exposure, just exposed t the constant high UV light. We’ve also watched the skin of those lucky few people who are able to sit on their balcony’s for hours every day, soaking up the atmosphere as they ‘ocean-gaze’. These folk find themselves wth increasing amounts of solar keratosis, sunspots and premature skin ageing.

So even for daily use we’d definitely recommend using a daily moisturiser that contains anti-ageing skin conditioners, or a a hydrating treatment that smooths fine lines and wrinkles plus an SPF sun protector. Then, when you are in the direct sunshine everybody needs a safe, straight-out high protection sunscreen at hand. If you work outdoors all day as part of your job, or if you need to protect sensitive areas of your face, like around your eyes, that are particularly susceptible to photo-ageing, total blackout is recommended.

But we have to agree with Dr Mercola, that you certainly don’t want to use most of the commercially available sunscreens under any condition as they not only block your body’s ability to produce vitamin D, they’re also loaded with toxic chemicals.

What’s the Big Deal about Commercial Sunscreens?

Ever wonder why there are signs that say NO SUNSCREENS ALLOWED at specific beaches where you can swim with dolphins? 

What’s the big deal about sunscreens, anyway? Well, for a start, the numerous chemicals in sunscreens, even diluted in ocean water, are considered harmful. If it can harm dolphins, can you imagine the impact most sunscreens have when applied directly to human skin?

Consumers are confused when medical and scientific reports indicate that the more people use sunscreen, the higher the incidence of skin cancer. This is a serious problem. The use of chemicals in sunscreens is increasing the incidence of skin cancer. Melanoma has more than doubled in the last 25 years – directly proportional to sunscreen sales. Users of sunscreens stay in the sun longer without getting the burn, which would have been nature’s warning signal.

So, what is the big deal?

Well, enjoying a walk in the sun is still an important part of staying healthy, but educating yourself about harmful ingredients in common products – including your sunscreen – is just as important. Read labels carefully. Wear hats, sunglasses and shirts with long sleeves when in the sun for longer periods of time. Plus, use only safe, chemical-free sunscreens to protect your exposed skin from over exposure to UVA/UVB rays.

On a larger scale, it must be demanded by enough people for the harmful ingredients to be omitted from sunscreens. Until then, tell the companies using these ingredients that you don’t want their toxic products. Spend your dollar on a safe sunscreen with safe ingredients, and protect your family. Before heading out into the sun, most people will slather themselves and their children with liberal layers of sunscreen in an attempt to protect against the sun’s harmful rays. As ninety five percent of the visible signs of ageing are associated with UV exposure, and ninety percent of sun exposure in a lifetime occurs before a person is 18 years old, this is not surprising.

Remember as always, the best protection against the sun is a shirt and hat, especially if your clothes are washed with a laundry detergent that contains sun protection factors, such as the one the Savvy Team use and recommend. Children should be encouraged to wear hats, protective clothing and regularly apply chemical-free sunscreens with a high UV protection.

For more detailed information on where to find the safest sunscreens and sun repair products, or this amazing laundry detergent, contact your Savvy team support.

Read below for FAQ’s on SPF and sunscreen, as well as other sunscreen tips.

What you need to know about SPF: SPF stands for “sun protection factor.” It tells you how long you can stay in the sun without burning from UVB light.

How does sunscreen work? : Sunscreen acts like a blanket over your skin. It stops the sun’s UV rays from inflicting skin damage by absorbing the light.

The difference between sunscreen and sunblock: Sunblocks protect against both UVA and UVB rays that cause sunburn and skin cancer. Sunblock appears white on the skin after application. Sunscreen is less visible on the skin but still protects against UVA and UVB rays. However, sunscreen has different active ingredients than sunblock, and its ingredients break down more easily after several hours of sun exposure. Therefore, sunscreen has to be re-applied more often.

Here’s a newspaper article warning of one ingredient causing sunscreen toxicity: Sunscreen Warning

Facts about SPF in your sunscreens:

  • The SPF number simply means that’s how many times longer you can be in the sun without getting a sunburn, opposed to not wearing sunscreen. For example, when wearing SPF 15, it takes 15 times as long to cause a sunburn compared to the amount of time you get a sunburn without wearing any sunscreen.
  • SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVA rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.
  • Sunscreen tips:
  • Find a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use cream sunscreen, and avoid sprays and powders.
  • When looking for full-body protection, apply two to three tablespoons of lotion 15 to 30 minutes before going into the sun.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Using a higher SPF does not mean that you can apply less. When using a higher SPF still apply multiple times through out the day.
  • Sunscreen should be a secondary measure to protect skin; use clothes, sunglasses, and shade to limit sun exposure.
  • Discard sunscreens after the expiration date.
  • If your sunscreen does not have an expiration date, write on the bottle the date you bought it. Discard it after two years.
  • Avoid overexposure to the sun. Watch out for signs of overexposure like red, sore, blistered, and peeling skin.

Above content contributed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN), The Food Consumer, Consumer Reports, and The Medical News. If you would like some information on the best and safest sunscreen protection products, contact your Savvy Support member.

Other References:

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One thought to “Sunscreen Causes Cancer?”

  1. I don’t like using commercial products. To prevent skin cancer, just eat foods that contains high amount of Niacin such as mushroom, tuna, green peas, avocados, peanuts from among others.

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