Are you counting on using sunscreen to ensure that you don’t get melanoma? Rethink that. Scientists can show little proof that using sunscreen alone is the answer to avoiding skin cancer. Yet, millions of Americans count on sunblock products to provide skin protection from cancer. But they shouldn’t.
However, it’s true that sunscreen, if used correctly, can help prevent sunburn which is a major cause of skin cancer. While it can be useful in helping to avoid sunburns, it’s not the only thing you should do to protect your skin. Plus, there are additional adverse health consequences to using some sunblock formulas on the market today.
Little Known Facts about Sunscreen
1. Using a sunscreen higher than SPF 50 is NOT safer
Most people assume that the more SPF, the safer for their skin. So, no problem. Just use more and stay in the sun longer. Relying on high SPF to protect them, many people change their sun bathing behaviour because they think they’re safe.
According to the Environmental Working Group, “Philippe Autier, a scientist formerly with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has conducted numerous studies on sunbathers and believes that high-SPF products spur “profound changes in sun behaviour” that may account for the increased melanoma risk found in some studies.”
Another down side to very high SPF, is the extra chemicals that are used to produce the sunscreen. More unhealthy chemicals are absorbed into the skin with higher SPF than a low SPF product. Some of the ingredients can pose a health risk and cause hormone disruption, allergic reactions and tissue damage.
2. No real proof that sunscreen prevents skin cancer
Even though there are more sunblock products sold and used today than ever before, the rates of skin cancer have tripled over the past 35 years. The FDA and a large group of scientists have found no real evidence that it protects against various types of skin cancer.
3. Sunscreen can contribute to low vitamin d levels
The good thing about sunblockers is that it helps to prevents burns; the bad thing is that is also blocks the sun’s rays that causes the body to produce vitamin D for optimum health. Vitamin D is important in lowering risks of cancer, strengthening bones and the immune system. Most people don’t get enough sun to produce vitamin D and need to take extra vitamin D through supplement form.
4. Some sunscreen formulas contain toxic ingredients that cause allergies and disrupt hormones
Many products contain chemical ingredients that absorb into the skin, disrupt the body’s hormone system or cause allergic reactions. Mineral based sunblock products are considered a better choice and contain titanium and zinc which are nanoparticles.
5. Sunscreen doesn’t automatically protect from all skin damage
Typically, American made sunblockers can protect from burns, but do not necessarily protect from ultraviolet rays that damage skin cells and DNA. Protection against aging skin and skin cancers is also not provided even with extra SPF that reduces burning.
6. Sunscreen products developed in Europe tend to provide better UVA protection
Why? Manufacturers in Europe have access to 7 different ingredients that filter UVA rays. In America, the FDA has only approved 3 of these ingredients that manufacturers can use, thus limiting their ability to more adequately provide consumers with the most powerful UVA protection.
7. Vitamin A is an additive in sunscreen products that may accelerate skin cancer development
You’d think that taking vitamin A sounds healthy, right? Not so in sunscreen. In fact, the EWG recommends that “…consumers avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions that contain vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate and retinol.”
Even though retinyl palmitate combats skin cancer, according to government studies, it also may speed the development of skin lesions and tumors when used on skin in the sun. Not all products use this additive, but be sure to avoid sunscreen that contains vitamin A.
8. High SPF isn’t a total guarantee against burns and skin cancer
The FDA has considered restricting companies from offering products with SPF levels higher than 50+. It can be misleading to consumers who believe they can use less sunscreen and stay in the sun longer.
9. Sunscreen is never really 100% “water proof”
No matter what a label claims, sunscreen will only protect the skin from burning a short time. After exposure to water or sweat, it breaks down and must be reapplied even if the SPF claims it is “water resistant”.
Safer Sunscreen Selection Tips
When choosing a safe sunscreen for your skin, always select a natural, organic alternative that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. Also, look for brands that block not only UVB, but UVA radiation as well. SPF should be 15 or higher. Mineral based sunscreen with titanium or zinc is also a good choice.