2012 May 16 by Randall Neustaedter OMD
A recent study has shown that a potent sunscreen ingredient, oxybenzone, may be a cause of endometriosis. This condition occurs when uterine tissue grows in abnormal sites in the abdomen and causes severe pain. Women are usually diagnosed because of severe cramping during their periods. In this study of 600 women, those with the highest levels of a form of oxybenzone in their urine had a 65 percent increased risk of endometriosis. Oxybenzone, like bisphenol-A (BPA), is a chemical that mimics estrogen. And endometriosis growth is fed by estrogen.
This study should be another warning sign that oxybenzone should not be put on the skin. The highest levels of oxybenzone in the urine of women in this study occurred in the months of July and August, proof that the sunscreen ingredient is readily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Exposure to sunlight promotes good health. The more sun exposure we get, the better our bodies function. Preventing sunburn during the hottest part of the day is a good idea. Sunburn damages the skin. But with all of the evidence that sunlight is beneficial in the prevention of cancer and heart disease, maintaining a strong immune system, and building bones, no one should be using sunscreens on a routine or daily basis.
This study provides further evidence that commercial sunscreens that contain cancer-causing and estrogenic chemicals should never be used. Sunscreens with oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are dangerous. The only proven safe sunscreen ingredient is zinc oxide.
Kunisue T, Chen Z, Buck Louis GM, Sundaram R, Hediger ML, Sun L, Kannan K. Urinary Concentrations of Benzophenone-type UV Filters in U.S. Women and Their Association with Endometriosis. Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Apr 17;46(8):4624-32. Epub 2012 Mar 29.
2011 May 17 by Randall Neustaedter OMD
The debate about sunscreens rages on. Dermatologists advise slathering up every day. Nutritionists and holistic doctors advise sun exposure to get vitamin D. Some even say sunscreens cause cancer, and a disturbing study showed that people who used more commercial sunscreen had more melanoma.
Where is the truth? We might never know. Sunscreen manufacturers need to sell their product and natural sunscreen companies have little money for research. The FDA is mute and has never said that sunscreens prevent skin cancer. It is clear that commercial sunscreen ingredients (like oxybenzone and methoxycinnamate) are potent hormone disrupters and potential carcinogens. My advice is to never use these commercial sunscreens.
What should you do? Be judicious and safe. Get sun exposure. It is the best and most reliable source of vitamin D. But avoid sunburn, which damages the skin and may increase your risk of skin cancer. Avoid baking in the sun at midday, especially those first days of summer or your beach vacation. Gradually build your tan. Wear a hat to protect your face from sunburn. If your kids are at camp or swimming in the afternoons in the summer, have them use a zinc oxide sunscreen. The safest sunscreen is zinc oxide. There is some concern about nano particles in mineral sunscreens, so the very safest is a non-nano zinc oxide. Many mineral sunscreens contain titanium dioxide, but suspicions have been raised over titanium dioxide because of its capability of disrupting cell growth. These mineral sunscreens are much more expensive than cheap commercial sunscreens, but well worth paying the extra cost.
Fortunately there are a number of zinc oxide sunscreens that often also contain organic herbal ingredients as well as oils and waxes that make them water resistant. Some of these brands include Badger, Soleo, Burnout, and UV Natural.
The Environmental Working Group publishes a yearly online guide to sunscreens that lists the ingredients in these products. http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/
Bottom Line: Stay safe by avoiding sunburn. Wear a hat. If you are in the sun at the beach or swimming pool, use a zinc oxide sunscreen, and reapply it after swimming.
2011 February 23 by Randall Neustaedter OMD
Sunny weather is here again and with it comes concerns about sun exposure and sunburn. The sun is beneficial for its ability to induce vitamin D production in our bodies. For those people who take cod liver oil in the winter for its vitamin D value, it may be prudent to switch during the sunny summer months to fish oil or krill oil as an omega 3 supplement, which do not contain vitamin D. It may be possible to build up too high a level of vitamin D in the bloodstream. Be aware, however, that research has failed to show any toxicity from vitamin D3 supplementation in adults at dosages as high as 4,000 to 10,000 IU. The synthetic Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) has shown toxic potential. We cannot get too much vitamin D from sun exposure.
2011 February 23 by Randall Neustaedter OMD
You are concerned about cumulative damage from sun exposure so you use a sunscreen, but what about those strange-sounding chemicals, are they safe? The answer is no. Most sunscreens contain a mixture of the following ingredients: oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, PABA, benzophenone, and triethanolamine. These are toxic chemicals that are absorbed through your skin, and they can cause cancer. They have never been proven safe, and children may be especially susceptible to their harmful effects.