Sun cancer is a real risk during the entire year, but it poses as an especially greater problem during the summer months. 5.4 Million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed every year and, of those, over 76,000 will be Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. It’s very important that we protect ourselves from the sun’s rays, but before you grab a tube of sunscreen from your local pharmacy, think twice. There are some extremely harmful chemicals lurking in that bright white, banana scented cream.
Used to filter UV rays, oxybenzone is used in almost all of the common American sunscreens. It most definitely penetrates the skin, aka the largest organ in our body, and has been detected in mothers’ breast milk! Not only is oxybenzone known to cause high rates of skin problems, it is an endocrine disruptor, causing all sorts of hormonal problems and is associated with endometriosis in women. According to the Environmental Working Group:
“FDA hasn’t assessed oxybenzone’s safety since the ’70s. That’s when they announced plans to develop comprehensive standards for sunscreen safety. Thirty years later, there are still no finalized standards — instead, FDA asks sunscreen manufacturers to voluntarily follow draft guidelines, and you and I get exposed to chemicals like oxybenzone without ever knowing about their harmful effects.”
Another chemical used in most American sunscreens, octinoxate causes mood changes, skin problems, and thyroid alterations in animal studies.
- Homosalate: Interrupts the effectiveness and processing of hormones important in both men and women. Androgen, testosterone, and estrogen have all been shown to display changes related to the use of this chemical.
Some experts believe that the unintentional side effects of using these chemical drenched creams may counteract the benefit of using them at all. The Department of Growth and Reproduction at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that a remarkably low amount of studies have been done on the chemicals. In this university’s journal article, the abstract portion of the document was not blunt in discussing the professional’s worries over the products used in sunscreen.
“Few human studies have investigated potential side effects of UV-filters, although human exposure is high as UV-filters in sunscreens are rapidly absorbed from the skin. One of the UV-filters, BP-3, has been found in 96% of urine samples in the US and several UV-filters in 85% of Swiss breast milk samples. It seems pertinent to evaluate whether exposure to UV-filters contributes to possible adverse effects on the developing organs of fetuses and children.”
There are alternate ways to protect you and your family from the harmful toxins in modern, chemical sunscreens. The best option is often to just steer clear of direct sunlight during peak times during the day and keep your body covered when possible. Wear long sleeves, large sun hats, and sunglasses during the day. Search for clothing made by companies who have begun selling clothes that, while breathable, provide excellent protection against harmful UV rays.