Is Your Sunscreen Increasing Your Risk of Skin Cancer?

CNN reported that the Environmental Working Group revealed that out of 800 sunscreens they tested, 25% of them are effective in protecting the skin without using ingredients that are potentially dangerous to one’s health. This report appeared on the 2012 Sunscreen Guide by the Environmental Working Group.

This report is alarming since many of us use sunscreens every day to protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun one of this being skin cancer. It is recommended that we lather on sunscreen lotion every day no matter what the season is for sun protection but the problem is many sunscreen lotions actually use ingredients that can bring harm to our health.

The solution is to not stop using sunscreen but rather stop using sunscreens that have harmful ingredients in them. So what ingredients in sunscreen should we be avoiding? And how can we make sure that the sun protection we are lathering on do not put our health in jeopardy?

Ingredients in Sunscreen to Avoid

  • Oxybenzone
  • Retinyl Palmitate (a form of Vitamin A)

Your sunscreen should also:

  • not have an SPF over 50
  • protect you against both UVA and UVB rays.

The Ongoing Debate in Oxybenzone
According to EWG (Environmental Working Group), an estimate of 56% of both beach and sport sunscreens have oxybenzone in its ingredients. Oxybenzone is used to absorb UV light. However, according to some research the skin also absorbs oxybenzone.

The EWG and some experts in toxicology believe that oxybenzone can disrupt hormones and also cause damage to cells which in turn can lead to skin cancer. However, the American Academy of Dermatology believes otherwise. They insist that oxybenzone is safe. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of oxybenzone since 1978 citing its effective broad spectrum protection against UV rays. It is also approved for use in sunscreens for children that are 6 months and older.

Retinyl Palminate
Consumers are also warned by the EWG against retinyl palminate. Studies funded by the government that this specific type of Vitamin A may likely increase one’s risk of skin cancer when it is applied on sun-exposed skin. However, these studies were conducted in mice and when tested in humans the results were inconclusive.

The Environmental Working Group advises the public to avoid sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate. This ingredient does not add to the effectiveness of sunscreen and even though no definitive research is available yet, EWG asks consumers to avoid sunscreen products with retinyl palminate because of the possible risks associated with this ingredient.

Protection Against UVA and UVB Rays
Most skin doctors agree with EWG on their advice on broad spectrum. The label broad spectrum means that the sunscreen can protect you against UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburns while UVA rays cause early skin damage and aging. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer.

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