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BURN: Health Impacts of Sunscreen Found to be Worse Than UV Damage!

10th May 2014
By Marie Be, Guest Writer for Wake Up World
It has long been known that sunscreen products are detrimental to our health. But how bad? And what is
worse: UV damage, chemical sunscreens or mineral sunscreens? Would there be any alternative ways to
protect the skin against UV rays, without necessarily hiding behind an umbrella all day?
Safe sun protection seems like another topic overloaded with information, where nothing seems quite
clear. This article makes sense of the whole issue by gathering independent scientific data from
worldwide sources and linking it to how your body reacts to sunscreen ingredients and UV rays. While
undertaking this research, we’ve even discovered alternative and natural ways to protect your skin against
UV rays!
Over the past decade, dozens of studies from third-party scientific groups have examined the potential
health hazards of sunscreen chemicals that permeate the skin. Sunscreen’s active ingredients are present
in large concentrations in order to filter UVA and UVB rays, and their repeated application over large
portions of the skin means that the body absorbs high concentrations of toxic chemicals. Sunscreen
ingredients are well known to cause poisoning, hormone disruption, degenerative changes in cells of the
skin, DNA damage, free-radical generation leading to premature ageing, a compromised immune system
and increased risk of melanoma.
The Environmental Working Group writes:
“The ideal sunscreen would completely block UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and
damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours. It would not form harmful
ingredients when degraded by sunlight. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people would use more of
it. No sunscreen meets these goals. Consumers must choose between “chemical” sunscreens, which have
inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone system, and “mineral”
sunscreens, made with zinc and titanium, often “micronized” or containing nano-particles.”
Chemical Sunscreens
Chemical sunscreens deserve special awareness, as they are known to permeate the skin. Chemical
sunscreens typically include a combination of three to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone,
avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
Laboratory studies indicate that these chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight, mimicking
estrogen and disrupting the body’s hormone (endocrine) system.[1] Research suggests that oxybenzone,
4-MBC and octinoxate are also toxic to human reproductive systems and interfere with normal
development.[2]
In North-America, oxybenzone is found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens. The federal Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detected oxybenzone in more than 96 percent of the U.S.
population, with higher concentrations found during the summer months.[3] Other studies have detected
common sunscreen chemicals in breast milk, which affects the normal development of fetuses and
newborns.[4]
Furthermore, a United States FDA report entitled ‘Medications that Increase Sensitivity to
Light’ indicates that many agents commonly used in chemical sunscreens - including benzophenones,
PABA, cinnamates, salicylates, anthranilates, PSBA, mexenone, and oxybenzone –
increase photosensitivity or have photo-reactive agents in them. This means that applying these chemicals
to your body during periods of sun exposure actually heightens the body’s reactivity to UV radiation and
increases the risk of skin cancer.
Mineral Sunscreens
In the mainstream media, mineral sunscreens are portrayed as the safe alternative to chemical sunscreens.
In fact, once exposed to sunlight, mineral filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have been found
to undergo a chemical reaction that releases free radicals in the body, damaging surrounding cells. Free
radicals cause cell and DNA damage, premature ageing and increase the risk of skin cancer.
According to the environmental working group, “mineral sunscreen could pose a risk of skin damage if
manufacturers do not select forms that are coated with inert chemicals to reduce photoactivity”. In other
words, they use chemicals to alter the hazardous effects of mineral filters breaking down in sunlight. This
is a problem: there is absolutely no research on chemicals used to reduce the photoreactivity of mineral
sunscreens.
Additionally, mineral filters release carcinogenic nanoparticles one-twentieth the thickness of a human
hair. Nanoparticles are not properly regulated, allowing manufacturers to cheap out on quality and
safety[5]. These particles are volatile; they can lodge in the lungs, reach the bloodstream and extensively
damage living cells and internal organs.[6] On top of it all, nanoparticles also react to UV rays faster,
increasing the amount of free radicals produced and drastically increasing UV damage in the body.
Additionally, sunscreen nano-ingredients have been shown to damage ecosystems as they accumulate in
the food chain, disrupting hormones of animals and humans.[7] The environmental impact of
nanoparticle pollution has not been sufficiently assessed, but experts suspect that nanoparticles are highly
prone to bioaccumulation[8].
Beware of false claims. Mineral sunscreens are commonly advertised as the “safe” alternative to chemical
sunscreens, but their chemical content is un-regulated and un-tested. Some other commonly misleading
claims are products advertised as “non-nano” titanium dioxide and zinc oxide: all mineral sunscreens
must be delivered in nanoparticle form to efficiently block UV rays.
Understanding the Health Effects of UV Rays
Wearing sunscreen and avoiding sunburns does not mean your skin is adequately protected.
UVA and UVB rays have very distinct properties when interacting with the skin. UVA rays damage skin
cells called keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. They
penetrate deeper into skin tissue where they release free radicals, damaging DNA and skin cells,
promoting skin aging and causing skin cancer.
UVB rays stimulate the production of new melanin and a thicker epidermis, which are your body’s
natural defense against UVA damage. They also cause sunburns, which are the body’s natural warning
and protection system against UVA damage.
UVB rays are necessary to build the precursors to vitamin D in the skin[10]. Vitamin D is a hormone
essential to calcium absorption, promoting bone health. It is also essential to a strong immune system and
helps protect against breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancer. About one-fourth of North-Americans have
low levels of vitamin D[11], which has been associated with increased cardiovascular mortality, colon
cancer mortality, breast cancer, skin cancer, metabolic disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes,
osteoporosis, upper respiratory tract infections and other microbe-caused infections[12].
Basically, for a sun protection lotion to be effective, it should block cancer-causing UVAs while
allowing healing UVBs to interact with the skin.
Ironically, sunscreens create the opposite effect of what they are designed for. They block UVBs
and allow harmful UVAs to penetrate deeper into the skin.
By focusing both their products and advertising campaigns on UVB protection, sunscreen companies are,
at best, selling their consumers a false sense of safety. Remarkably, regulators like the FDA continue to
allow these chemicals to be sold as ‘sun protection’, despite the known risks associated with both
chemical and mineral sunscreens.
Blocking UVB absorption neutralizes the body’s natural UVA defense mechanisms and impedes vitamin
D to naturally build in the body. Most sunscreens further enhance the damage produced by UVA rays by
separating it from its ultraviolet particle UVB, allowing UVA rays to penetrate deeper into the skin,
reaching connective tissues and blood vessels. It is also common for sunscreens to contain anti-
inflammatory chemicals that can prevent the skin from burning, creating a false sense of security where
users wrongly assume they are being adequately protected from the harmful effects of UV rays (which
include free radical release and DNA damage).
“One study of three common sunscreen ingredients found that after one hour of UV-exposure, the
number of free radicals on sunscreen-treated skin was actually higher than on untreated skin.”[13]
“Experts caution that the unintentional exposure to and toxicity of active ingredients erodes the
benefits of sunscreens.”[14]
Quite simply, sunscreens inhibit the innate intelligence of our skin cells. On one hand, they neutralize
UVB rays, which are the body’s natural defense system against UVA damage. On the other hand, they
enable harmful UVA rays to penetrate deeper into the body. With so much misinformation in the public
sphere, it is no wonder skin cancer rates are sky-rocketing!
The Sun and its Healing Powers
The sun, a dynamic source of life-sustaining energy, is truly one of the most powerful healing therapies in
the world. And it is free, which is probably why nobody is promoting it! Here are some of the healing
benefits of the sun:
 Helps fight cancer in conjunction with whole foods
 Heals skin disorders such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin
 Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
 Cleanses the blood and increases oxygen content as it penetrates deep into the skin
 Builds a strong the immune system as white blood cells increase with sun exposure
 Body’s primary source of vitamin D
 Treats depression
Natural Ways to Avoid Sun Damage
There are many ways to avoid skin damage and burning without the damaging affects of sunscreen:
1. Stay hydrated. Your skin is more likely to burn if you are dehydrated, so drink lots of water..
2. Naturally increase your skin’s resistance to UV rays by gradually exposing it to the morning sun for
short periods of time. You will be less likely to burn, and you will reap the health benefits of increased
Vitamin D. Avoid prolonged mid-day exposures.
3. Avoid sunglasses. The optical nerve in the eyes sends signals to the hypothalamus. The gland has the
ability to adjust the skin’s resistance to UV rays on the basis of how much light your eyes receive.
4. Sunburn is caused by oxidation of the skin cells. Eat colorful foods – they are high in antioxidants and
you will support the body to counteract the effects of sunburn.
5. Cleanse your liver of toxins and heavy metals as they play a major role in UV protection.
Adding zeolite to your diet is a safe and powerful way to detox the body.
6. Apply micronized zeolite to your skin. Easily absorbed, it assists the skin to build and strengthen its
own natural UV and UVA defense, healing and processing mechanisms. Zeolite does not deter beneficial
UV rays from entering the skin, it protects against DNA damage, protecting your skin and cell
membranes at the cellular level. Try out SunSheer from EarthSun, an organic zeolite cream with a
protection level comparable to a sunscreen SPF 50.
As you can see, independent scientific data shows that sunscreens are actually counter-productive to their
purpose, inhibiting the innate intelligence of our skin cells, neutralizing beneficial UVB rays and
increasing the harmful effects of UVA radiation. Thankfully nature has provided some simple and natural
ways to protect our skin from UV rays without the damaging affects of conventional sunscreens. For
more information, please visit me at Earth for the Sun.
Resources:
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2605.2012.01280.x.
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About the author:
Marie Be’s inspiration comes from her mom who always challenged common assumptions and sought to
understand for herself the major issues concerning her family and the choices she made on their behalf.
She raised Marie and her brother in a rural environment, feeding them the best organic foods, and focused
on building strong immune systems in her children through the use of natural plants, herbs and minerals.
As a fiery teenager, Marie travelled the world in search of purpose and dreamed of positively influencing
our society. While earning her first two degrees, in architecture and sustainable development, she worked
for Greenpeace and many other organizations of change. Her experience taught her that change cannot be
imposed; she now aims at inspiring individuals through education and awareness.
Marie moved to Vancouver to undertake a Masters in Regenerative Sustainability under the supervision
of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Teaching workshops on well-being, she started observing a widespread
desire in our society for both physical and environmental health and sustainability. Feeling the winds of
change, Marie founded Earth for the Sun.
Earth for the Sun was inspired by nature, the source of life. By tuning in that source, by acquiring
knowledge on ancient herbal traditions as well as new technologies, Marie believes it is possible to use
nature’s intelligence and deliver simple and effective health products. Check out Earth for the Sun for
more information.