I hate getting sunburn. I also really hate MOST sun protection. I have questioned for years the parabens in different products because of their risks associated with cancers, and breast cancer spcifically as stated in this medical journal published study (Journal of Applied Toxicology).
In addition, skin cancer risk may be directly correlated to other compounds in sun protection, according to this article by The Environmental Working Group.
Laboratory studies of several sunscreen chemicals indicate that they may mimic hormones and disrupt the hormone system (Krause 2012, Schlumpf 2001, 2004b, 2008). Some research on animals suggests that oxybenzone and two other sunscreen chemicals – 4-MBC and octinoxate – are toxic to reproductive systems or interfere with normal development. (See Table 1)
Experts caution that the unintentional exposure to and toxicity of active ingredients erodes the benefits of sunscreens (Krause 2012, Schlumpf 2010). But most conclude that more sensitive tests are needed to determine whether these ingredients pose risks to sunscreen users (Draelos 2010, Gilbert 2013).
The most problematic of the sunscreen chemicals used in the U.S. is oxybenzone, found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens. EWG recommends that consumers avoid oxybenzone because it can penetrate the skin, cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones (Calafat 2008, Rodriguez 2006, Krause 2012). Preliminary investigations of human populations suggest a link between higher concentrations of oxybenzone and its metabolites in the body and increased risk of endometriosis and lower birthweight in daughters (Kunisue 2012, Wolff 2008).
The Article goes on, and is cautious not to make generalized broad sweeping claims, but as I read through the list, I understand why it is a common concern among the health conscious leaders that sunscreen could increase risk of cancer. The words “may disrupt hormones” from the three references, is a concern… a cancer concern.
But I would agree, there needs to be more studies to be certain. I also understand that between 2000 and 2009 melanoma increased its incidence 1.9% annually (http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2009_pops09/). Not a sky rocketing move, but an increase. One that I believe can be attributed more readily to the increase in toxic skin products than it can to anything else. Why? Because the fear of the sun has grown exponentially in that time, and the number of pre-emptive biopsies, and subsequent removal of questionable skin, has also increased two and a half times over a 15 year period (’86-’01 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16081427).
In other words, we aren’t “missing” it. We are finding it more often, because it exists more often. And don’t get caught up in the “well maybe its increasing because we are biopsying more often, so its just that we are better t finding it” mentality. If that were the case, then you are also say coroners weren’t able to scratch a cell off of someone’s skin and put it under a microscope in the year 2000. Guess what, that’s flawed.
So, in the end, we have a conundrum. Now, lets poor some gasoline on it, and consider that currently there are up to 85% of Americans who are deficient of Vitamin D (http://www.mercola.com/downloads/bonus/vitamin-d/report.aspx).
- The authors of a 2006 article in the American Journal of Public Health state, after a review of more than 60 studies on Vitamin D and Cancer, found cancer occurrence and death could be reduced with improved levels of Vitamin D in the body. The incidence of breast cancer could be reduced by 50% and colon cancer by 80%.
- 50% of women with hip fractures were shown to have osteoporosis and Vitamin D deficiency.
Given these stats, you are now stuck with the “What in the world should I do” syndrome. Much like the “I am not going to eat anything again… ever” syndrome that followed watching Food Inc. The problem is, you are going to go outside, so what will you do?
I have a plethora of products in my home for sun protection. From Dr. Mercola Natural Products, to California Baby, to Trader Joe’s, to plain old Coppertone/Australian Gold brand (these are never clean, but not all are made equal). It comes down to reading the labels of each.
For this vacation, we shot down from Atlanta to Pompano Beach (Ft. Lauderdale), which means we went from pretty cool still, to nice and hot in a pretty quick step (one day in Orlando to acclimatize). So, my plan – knowing that I must be Vitamin D deficient, even though I have been loading up daily since October, was to get a HIGH dose of sun, then cover up. And continue on this plan. Dose for 15 minutes, cover. And when I say cover, I mean a strong amount of coverage.
In the photo, there are some Mercola products on the right, the front two on the left are other organic, and Trader Joe’s are the yellow and blue in the back (they use the oxybenzone ingredient, where Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the key ingredient in every other product here. That is why we prefer these, cleaner and more effective as Zinc Oxide is the best for blocking the UVA rays (don’t cause burns, just damage). Clean, and effective, but there are some difficulties at times.
Back to the beach, so after an afternoon in the sun at Gaylord Palms water park in Orlando (this hotel is pretty cool, check it out next time you are there); I was ready for a full day of sun at Pompano Beach. We set up on the beach, then I dug into my book (Lone Survivor, be sure to read the upcoming Daily Sprout on that one). I waited only five minutes, then put the Mercola SPF 15 on (you should learn about SPF grades if you think that isn’t enough <http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/whats-wrong-with-high-spf/> also – good to understand the importance of reapplication.
So, I got all covered up with the 15, but it was hard to rub in, and accumulated and clumped in areas. Only 30 minutes later I decided to cover up again. This seemed better. Well, in the end, I was wrong, and decided that my burn (yep I am totally burned) was entirely due to the ineffective spreading of this lotion. I used Mercola’s 30 and 50 at other times, and these were decidedly better at covering, as I was able to halt all further reddening or otherwise measurable damage to my skin.
I did however comment to my family, “If you could figure out how to get a spigot in me, I think you could drink all the Vitamin D you would need!” So, my Dermatologist is pulling her hair out reading this because of the burning, yet I am not so sure that the burn is worse than the lack of Vitamin D, or the paraben and oxybenzone absorption that would have occurred in 95% of the population avoiding the burn.
My best suggestion. Do exactly what I was going to be doing, but cover up with something that rubs in smoothly, so you know that coverage is happening. Skip the lotion for the first 5-15 minutes every time, so you get Vitamin D production. You don’t produce it through sunscreen coverage. So you need the time without, and as you develop more of a tan over time, you can handle greater time without coverage, thus gain more Vitamin D.
In pursuit of truth and health! Be well and Be blessed! – Dr. E