The Dangers of Chemical Sunscreens

Soleil Healthy,Sun Protection — June 13, 2012

It seems implausible that sunscreen, the panacea to skin cancer, could ever pose a health risk. Sadly, growing evidence against chemical sunscreen ingredients proves that they are doing more harm than good and in many cases, are paradoxically accelerating malignant melanoma.

Research reveals that many very common chemical sunscreen actives are responsible for generating free radical damage in the body. Most worrisome is that these sunscreen ingredients cause estrogenic affects that produce severe reproductive abnormalities and may further increase cancer risks.

Chemical Sunscreens and Your Skin

The skin is living, breathing, porous in texture and therefore permeable. That said – we wouldn’t put anything on it that we wouldn’t feel comfortable with putting in it. The skin should always be thought of for its constant and direct access to the bloodstream. Any substance it comes in contact with is capable of being carried to the blood via millions of open pores on the epidermis. Unlike our digestive system, our skin is not equipped to manage and break down that which it is exposed to.  Topical toxins are then transported to the blood and through the body reaching the cells.

Common Chemical Sunscreen Actives

Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)

Avobenzone  (butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane; Parsol 1789)

PABA / PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB,  glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA)

Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A)

Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate)

Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)

Digalloyl trioleate

Menthyl anthranilate

Chemical Sunscreen Health Implications

  1. Damage to DNA – Chemicals in absorbed into the bloodstream via skin generates free radicals which increase cellular damage.  The free radicals in the body react with other molecules and become damaging to proteins, fats and DNA –  types of damage that produce skin aging and worse, the development of cancer. With this absorption also comes the UV energy which lingers in the cells and then goes on to generate free radicals in the body.
  2. Toxic build up – Because the body does not recognize chemicals, our filtering mechanism isn’t able to rid the body of the synthetics creating a cumulative toxic build up in the body.
  3. Estrogenic activity – chemicals interfere with normal sexual development – engendering a host of secondary medical problems.
  4. Cancer acceleration – Retinyl Palmitate / Vitamin A when illuminated becomes carcinogenic and has been proven to accelerate tumor growth in animals.

Don’t allow your sunscreen product to beguile your skin the protection it deserves. Sure, your go-to drugstore or even high end department store brand sunscreen may seem effective at keeping sunburn at bay, but ask yourself, will you be better or worse off at the cellular level? To us, it is counter intuitive to slather on a chemical sunscreen in an ultimate quest for healthy skin.  Don’t risk it when you can avoid controversial chemicals and shield your skin’s DNA from harmful UV rays and other environmental toxins naturally.

For more information including clinical studies, The Chemical Sunscreen Health Disaster is a useful reference. Additionally we recommend conscious consumers refer to The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to research the ratings of specific sunscreen products.

Image source: Exposed by Mark Schapiro

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