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10 Disturbing Sunscreen Secrets

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10 Disturbing Sunscreen Secrets


Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about protecting yourself from damaging rays, we uncovered some sneaky sun-care truths.

By Kimberly Goad, Women’s Health

Slathering on sunscreen is the best way to ward off evil rays, but don’t put blind faith in its efficacy. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., reviewed nearly 1,400 sunscreens in 2010 and found that only 8 percent made the grade in terms of preventing skin cancer and signs of aging. (Scary, right?) So choosing the right one is critical. These fascinating facts and tips will help keep your skin healthy this summer and beyond.

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1. Some Dangers Lurk Within
A form of vitamin A is added to some sunscreens to minimize the aging effects of the sun. What’s not to love about that? Potentially plenty: Researchers with the National Toxicology Program say retinyl palmitate–a vitamin-A compound used in at least 40 percent of American sunscreens–may speed up the development of skin cancer–related tumors and lesions when used on skin hit with sunlight. Lab animals coated with a vitamin A–laced skin cream and exposed to the equivalent of just nine minutes of midday sunlight every day for a year developed tumors and lesions up to 21 percent sooner than animals coated in vitamin A–free block.

While there’s disagreement in the medical community about whether vitamin A has the same effect on humans, it’s best to proceed with caution.

“If there’s a question about the safety of something, avoid it. Plenty of sunscreens don’t have retinyl palmitate,” says Robert J. Friedman, M.D., a dermatologic oncologist in New York City and a clinical professor at the New York University School of Medicine. Try Jason Family Natural Sunblock SPF 45 ($12, at health-food stores).

Vitamin A isn’t the only controversial ingredient slipped into some SPFs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, common block chemicals, are linked to allergic contact dermatitis and photocontact dermatitis (irritation caused when certain chemicals are on skin that’s exposed to sunlight), as well as hormone disruption, in lab animals.

2. Sunscreen Can Harm the Environment
Twenty thousand tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers, divers, and surfers into the oceans every year, eventually affecting marine life, according to a 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. And coral reefs are getting especially creamed. Researchers say sunscreens with octinoxate, oxybenzone, parabens, or camphor derivatives are killing hard corals (which could negatively impact biodiversity and reef ecosystems). None of this is a problem if you’re hiking, biking, or sunbathing on dry land. But if you plan to swim in the sea, slather on a biodegradable sunscreen that doesn’t contain ingredients that are mean to marine life. Try Alba Botanica Very Emollient Fragrance Free Mineral Sunblock SPF 30.

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Rodale

Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice.

148 comments

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7:58AM PST on Jan 26, 2014

'FDA last reviewed the safety of sunscreen ingredients in 1978. At that time, it announced plans to develop comprehensive standards for sunscreen safety and effectiveness. More than 30 years later, the agency has yet to publish any standards for sunscreen ingredients. As a result, manufacturers in the U.S. are free to market products containing ingredients that have not been proven safe. When many of the chemicals used in popular sunscreens are exposed to sunlight, reactions occur between the sunscreen’s active and inactive ingredients and the epidermis. Toxic reactions include inflammation, dermalogical effects, allergic reactions and photogenotoxic (DNA altering) effects. Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that actually promote cancer.' See more at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2012/04/10/you-have-the-right-to-know-17-chemicals-to-avoid-in-cosmetic-and-personal-care-products/#sthash.95TDG062.UAADqU5M.dpuf

3:43AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Noted and thank you!!

9:40AM PST on Jan 24, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:52PM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

I live in Arizona and it's hot. Even in the winter time, the sun in Arizona is dangerous.

I don't use sun screen. I think it harms the skin.

I eat almonds and carry a golf umbrella that is BBBBIIIIIIIGGGGG!!!! I see women walking along with regular umbrellas and they don't know their arms are hanging out in the sun!

I'm almost 70 and I don't have skin cancer. In fact, in the past, I spent a lot of time in the sun.
I don't have cancer. I use almonds and a HHHUUUGGGEEE umbrella. In the day time it protects me from the sun. At night, it protects me from........no body bothers an old lady with a BIG!!! umbrella as long as I stay in safe areas. lol

12:25AM PDT on May 14, 2012

thanks

6:22PM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

All this is very true. Go to EWG.com/Skin Deep and u can see their best rated sunscreens. I use Badger.

2:23AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

When I was a child, there was NOT much consciousness of the importance of sun protection, and NOT much available in the way of useful sunscreens. (Yeah, OK, there was the dreaded stark white zinc oxide stuff that lifeguards coated their noses with!) So, in fact, much has actually improved in the last several decades. At least now there is a choice of many suncreens, some (unfortunately not all) of which are reasonably efficacious and safe.

5:59AM PDT on Jun 26, 2011

I USE THE ALBA BOTANICA FRAGRANCE FREE AND IT IS WONDERFUL TO USE, PROTECTS MY SKIN AND HELPS KEEP MY FACE YOUNGER LOOKING. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

11:32AM PDT on Jun 21, 2011

I honestly never thought of the possible harm sunscreen could do... thank you for that!

11:25PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

Found article very informative. Thanks!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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