September 9, 2013

 

Sunscreen – Good or Bad?

 

Growing up in Russia and having olive toned skin I rarely used sunscreen. I also rarely burned, since my Mom taught me to get gradual exposure to sun in the beginning of each summer. My Mom also taught me to avoid spending a lot of time in the sun between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. If I was going to the beach I would go before or after those times. When we immigrated to the United States we continued to not use sunscreen except for the rare times when we would be in the sun, for a while, between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. However, as I was more and more exposed to the commercials and magazines here in the U.S., I was more and more affected by the fear those commercials incite in all of us. Having no skin cancer in my family and having all of my relatives exposed to a lot of sun, at least during the summer, so I still could not motivate myself into using sunscreen on the daily basis.

 

Today, with so much contradictory information available it is hard to decide what is the best thing to do. And preparing myself for pregnancy and future babies I wanted to know what is the correct way to go. Here is the short of what I found,

 

Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 of higher every day, reapplying it every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating. It further recommends keeping newborns out of the sun and applying sunscreen to babies over six months of age.[1] While The Telegraph (UK Newspaper) reports a growing number of cases of rickets, a Victorian slum disease growing out of vitamin D deficiency.[2] The disease that used to only effect people growing up in the dark 19th century tenements. Multiple cases have been reported in children whose parents applied sunscreen to protect their children’s skin, thinking they were doing the right thing and also in children playing video games and not spending enough time in the sun.

 

Furthermore, many of the ingredients commonly used in most of the sunscreens available on the market today are highly toxic and known to cause harmful effects to humans, including, but not limited, to cancer.[3] One of such chemicals is oxybenzone. In animal studies, oxybenzone, has shown to cause hormone imbalances, leading to weight gain and reproductive health problems. Other chemicals such as microscopic zinc and titanium in mineral sunscreens have shown to cause genetic damage in mice and damage colon cells when ingested. Although some doctors say that there is no evidence of those nanominerals penetrate healthy skin, the research regarding skin absorption of cosmetic products (sunscreen or otherwise) has shown otherwise. Cosmetic industry has been using nanotechnology for years to increase the absorption of their products by human skin.[4] Also, children allergic to peanuts and other nuts have gotten allergic reactions from coming in contact with products that contain nut oils.[5]

 

There are multitude suggestions out there for what we should do. Some say avoid sunscreen all together, which may be possible for some, like me, if I avoid too much sun between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. but not so much for my Husband, whose skin is very fair and turns red at any suggestion of the sun.

 

My personal opinion, and it has worked for me and my family is to use sunscreen before prolonged sun exposure but not for short early morning or late afternoon exposure. I do not use sunscreen everyday, as some amount of sun is good for us and helps us to get vitamin D, necessary for many processes in our bodies.

 

And as with other cosmetic products, I use only nontoxic sunscreens. The following website rates sunscreens and other cosmetic products, allowing you to make good choices regarding your skin care, cosmetics, baby products, perfumes, etc. -http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

 

Hope you found this article helpful, please share your comments above.

 

Thank you!



[2] The Telegraph, Schoolgirl’s Rickets Blamed on Sunscreen (2011),http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/8268321/Schoolgirls-rickets-blamed-on-sunscreen.html

[3] Cindy Kuzma, Does Sunscreen Cause Cancer? (2012)http://news.menshealth.com/sunscreen-controvers/2012/05/19/

[4] Sabine GreBler, Andre Gazso, Myrtill Simko, Ulrich Fiedeler and Michael Nentwich, Nanotechnology in Cosmetics (December 2010), Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Science,http://epub.oeaw.ac.at:8000/ita/nanotrust-dossiers/dossier008en.pdf

[5] Lawrence R. Lever, Peanut and Nut Allergy (1996)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2351656/?page=1 

 

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