Are you like one of the millions of Americans who slathers sunscreen on yourself and your family? Did you know that many commercially available sunscreens may cause health issues?
Sunscreens fall into two broad categories – chemical and mineral. Most of the commercial brands that you see in stores are the chemical variety. They use chemical filters to protect your skin from the sun and they typically contain some the following chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Some products are combinations of mineral and chemical sunscreens.
According to the Environmental Working Group, studies indicate that chemical sunscreen ingredients may interfere with human hormones such as our sex (estrogen and testosterone) and thyroid hormones and that exposure to one of the chemical, oxybenzone, caused lower testosterone production in adolescent boys. Oxybenzone and other chemicals were even found secreted in mother’s milk. These sunscreens are also associated with a potential skin cancer risk. Additionally, many chemical sunscreens cause skin sensitivities and allergic reactions. Even though laboratory studies indicate that there may be health related issues with chemical hormones, the FDA hasn’t reviewed the evidence of sunscreen safety due to the grandfathering in of sunscreen ingredients in the 1970’s.
One final note: you can increase your body’s ability to withstand the UVA and UVB radiation through great nutrition. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which have a protective effect. Also, salmon has protective effects. Of course, this is not a substitute for proper sun protection (mineral sunscreen, hat, long-sleeves). Have an enjoyable and safe summer!
Until next time…
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