Possible Dangers of Sunscreen


Sunscreen is supposed to be good for you. It's supposed to protect you (and the environment.) It's designed to prevent sunburn which can lead to skin cancer. But is it as safe as you'd like to think? Recent studies have discovered that not all sunscreens are created equal and many, in fact, may lead to more skin cancer.

There are over 1400 sunscreens on the market, but less than ten percent of those do what they claim and some are even causing more problems, not only to people but to the environment as well.

Many sunscreens contain a form of vitamin A to help minimize the effects of sun-related aging, but in some cases it may actually speed up the development of cancer related tumors. It's best to get your vitamin A from natural food sources and let it do its work from the inside out.

Other ingredients in sunscreen have been linked to contact dermatitis and other skin allergies. Some sunscreens can even cause hormonal disruptions.

If it's not enough that sunscreen may be harmful to you, some sunscreens are proving to be harmful to marine life as well. Each year millions of people hit the beaches around the world, slather on sunscreen to protect their skin from the effects of sun and then hit the water to go swimming. The ocean water washes the sunscreen off the skin, dispensing it into the water which is causing contamination. This can be very disruptive to the ecosystems in the ocean. Coral reefs are especially at risk from the effects of certain chemical compounds found in many sunscreens.

Another thing to be aware of is sunscreen's inability to block UVA rays. These are the harmful rays that lead to skin cancer, but the blockage protection only indicates its effects against blocking UVB rays. If you need a good sunscreen that blocks the harmful rays look for ones that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide for the best protection.

You also want to check the date of expiration on your bottle of protection and also make sure you keep it out of direct excessive heat. This can break down the compounds that keep sunscreen active. Over time these compounds naturally lose their effectiveness so keep and eye on the expiration and keep your sunscreen cool in the shade.

But the label says…

You can't always trust the label either. Sunscreens aren't regulated by the FDA so many manufacturers can make claims that they can't back up and lead you into believing that you're protected.

I need a high SPF because it offers more protection.

Does it? The SPF listed on the bottle can be very misleading. You may think the higher the number the more protection it gives, but in fact, the increments are so small in the protection factor it offers that 30 to 50 SPF is about the best you're going to get. The key is to apply it liberally and often. And in case you're wondering, it's the same with SPF makeup and moisturizers. Unless you reapply them every two hours, you're not getting any more protection than from regular, less expensive brands.

It's best to stay out of the sun as much as you possibly can. If you have to be in the sun find sunscreens with high quality ingredients that are environmentally safe and apply it often.

What about vitamin D? Yes, it's a very important nutrient and the sun does help our bodies to produce it, but you can also get plenty of vitamin D through natural food sources and supplements.

And for natural protection against the sun there are plenty of foods that offer protection. Eating plenty of foods that are rich in lycopene, like watermelon, grapefruit, guava and tomatoes will help you against the damage of the sun. This doesn't mean you can go out without sunscreen, but it will give you some protection from the inside out by reducing cellular damage.

And don't forget, if you're on any medications, like pain killers, diuretics, ibuprofen or antibiotics, these make your skin more sensitive to sun and will cause you to burn faster.

The only safe way to go out in the sun is to go fully covered, but since that isn't possible and makes it difficult to have fun, just be very selective about your protection and apply it often.


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