This recent heatwave in our area has provoked us to the question, what are the dangers of sunscreen? We are quick to slather it all over ourselves but have we stopped to think what could be in it? Remember, our skin is absorbent, so it's important you make sure you know what you're putting on (and ultimately in) your body.
More than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. This number has steadily increased on an annual basis despite more and more people using sunscreen. In fact, studies done since the 90's show that there is a higher risk for malignant melanoma in people who use more sunscreen. That should be a red flag right there that something isn't quite right.
In 2014, the Environmental Working Group published a guide to safe sunscreens. They reviewed over 2000 sunscreens from over 257 brands and found that 75% contained toxic chemicals with direct links to causing cancer and other health issues. Their study shows that some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood and have toxic effects. Some can even imitate estrogen (we talked about that in our study of plastics!) and throw our hormones for a loop. Sunscreens haven't been regulated in the US since 1978. So that means for the past 38 years, sunscreen producers have been able to put whatever they want in their product AND label it however they want so that you'll never know it's not safe.
Another study, this time from Environmental Science Technology, shows the common sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are chemicals that mimic estrogen that are linked to cancer. If you find any of those ingredients in your sunscreen, you should toss it immediately!
I want to debunk a common myth, in fact, a lie. The sun does not cause cancer. In all reality, the sun is very important for our health and well-being. It's our best source of Vitamin D. A moderate amount of sun exposure every day can actually decrease your risk for certain types of cancer. I'm not saying you should sit in the sun until you turn into a lobster but your body is designed to handle the sun's rays. Simply wearing a hat and light shirt can be your best alternative if you find that you burn easily.