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Safety Concerns with Sunscreens

Safety Concerns with Sunscreens

Six frequently used UVA and UVB sunscreens were tested by the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurch, Switzerland, for estrogenicity, and reported in “Environmental Health Perspectives,” Feb. 28, 2001.

Chemicals that are estrogenic can be considered endocrine disrupters, fooling the body into believing they were natural hormones, which can cause reproductive problems. The chemicals analyzed were
1. Benzophenone-3 (Bp-3)
2. Homosalate (HMS)
3. 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
4. Octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC)
5. Octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA)
6. Parabens
7. Butyl-methoxydibenzoylmethane (B-MDM)

The first six of these chemicals, found in sunscreens of every type, were found to be estrogenic, whereas the seventh was inactive. The researchers concluded that there was enough evidence of estrogenicity for further studies to be warranted.

Abiding by the Precautionary Principle, it makes sense to choose products free of these chemicals until more research has been completed into possible long-term effects in humans and wildlife.

Chemical-free and natural sunscreens use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They are physical barrier-type sunscreens and generally less irritating. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect against UVA and UVB rays.

Brands using these natural sunscreens include Aubrey Organics’ Ultra Natural Herbal Sunblock, Titania SPF 25 Full Spectrum Sunblock, and Green Tea Sunblock (ingredients in green tea have been shown to protect against skin cancer); and Logona Kosmetik’s Sun Milk line of mineral sun protection products. Read labels carefully.

Important Note: Until recently, sunscreens have protected only against UVB rays, not UVA rays. UVB rays cause sunburn, and if you screen them you might stay in the sun longer, overexposing yourself unprotected to UVA rays. UV rays are the most intense from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. We need to wear sunblock effective against UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of at least 15, year-round. As noted above, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect against UVA and UVB rays.

In the news: Swimmers’ sunscreen kills coral

Read more: Beauty, Holistic Beauty, Skin Care

By Annie B. Bond

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


+ add your own
4:43AM PDT on Mar 30, 2013

I always use sunscreen.

2:20AM PST on Nov 27, 2012

thanks for sharing

6:45AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

thank you

1:20AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Thank you for the post

1:21PM PDT on Mar 24, 2011


6:05AM PST on Feb 11, 2011

Thanks for the info.

10:19PM PST on Dec 20, 2009

Wow! This is great. Every beach lovers should keep this points in mind. Thanks for giving some light on sunscreens.

bilberry plus

7:22AM PST on Nov 3, 2009

I strive to have everything chemical free, I found almost everything I needed in one place including chemical free sunscreen at They even have chemical free pet shampoo.

4:02PM PST on Feb 20, 2008

Miessence Certified Organics also has new sunscreen available! Great product! For your safety and others, read the labels on products.

1:57PM PST on Feb 20, 2008

1. Why do you warn us against UV-a? I was always told that this makes your skin a little brown without danger, a normal natural reaction against UV-rays. And it also helps to make vitamine D in our bodies, especially if we do not eat much meat. UV-b are the dangerous ones that can detroy skin-cells or cause skin-cancer. This is what I have always been told.

2. This may be a very disturbing idea to some people. Please, it is not at all my idea to hurt you in one way or another.
But this is my idea: maybe our "habit" (at least since the 60's) to go on vacation and return with a browner skin, may be so unnatural that it is a threat to our health, something we should not do at all (the extreme sunbaths, I mean). Sunlight is healthy in moderation. Just working or walking in the sun for some hours, yes, but turning around in the sunlight like a chicken in the oven, no.
Look at the local population in Southern Europe: they stay inside their homes between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun shines hardest. Do like the locals and stay out of the sun when she shines at the hardest, and you will not need a sunblock of any kind.
I repeat: it is not my intension to hurt or to attack. This is only my opinion.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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