Summer has finally arrived and with it comes fun in the sun and the not-so-fun…
If children who suffer just one blistering sunburn can more than double their chances of developing skin cancer later in life, it would make sense to bathe them in sunscreen before spending any time outside. But what if that sunscreen that promises to protect your children is doing more harm than good? Before buying the first sunscreen, you see on the shelf it is important to understand the possible adverse effects that can come along with many of these products. Most sunscreen formulas are chemical based, containing compounds such as oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, which can cause allergic skin reactions, hormonal imbalances, and may even be photocarcinogenic (cancer causing when exposed to UV light).
What I’m i putting over my child’s Skin?
There are 17 possible ingredients that have been FDA approved to protect against the sun’s harmful rays. 15 of these are chemicals that absorb UV light, and the other two are made of minerals that create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Though both can cause allergic reactions, the chemical based sunscreens have a much higher rate of allergic reactions than their mineral counterparts. Many chemicals used in sunscreens such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene have been proven to have high rates of skin allergy most commonly resulting in red, irritated skin, itching, swelling, and blisters full of fluid. It is especially important to make sure your child is not allergic to a new sunscreen before slathering their entire body with it. A good way to do this is to rub a little dab of sunscreen on the inside of your child’s arm and check the area again in 24 hours for any signs of a reaction. But an allergic reaction may be the least concerning of all the risks when using chemical based sunscreens.
Unlike mineral based sunscreens, which sit on top of the skin creating a physical barrier to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays, chemical based sunscreens are absorbed by the skin. These chemicals quickly make their way into the bloodstream and are detectable in blood, urine, and even breast milk for up to two days after making contact with the skin. The problem with this is that 9 of the 15 chemical ingredients in non-mineral sunscreen formulas are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors. These endocrine disruptors have been shown to cause low sperm counts, infertility, and abnormalities in fetuses and growing children. The most common chemical found in sunscreen, oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study conducted by the center of disease control. Oxybenzone is also an endocrine disruptor and, according to the EWG, has been shown to alter sperm production and can cause endometriosis in women. But perhaps the most troublesome issue is that these sunscreens may be developing cancer in the people who think they are protecting themselves against it.
Some of them may actually be dangerous.
In a recent study done by the EWG, they tested nearly 2,000 different sunscreen products. Of these products, it was found that only 5% of them met their safety standards and over 40% were found to have compounds that may contribute to the development of skin cancer. One of the primary reasons to this is the presence of retinyl palmitate in many sunscreen lotions. This vitamin A derivative was found to speed up the growth of cancer cells by up to 21% and can be especially dangerous if inhaled (it is found in many spray sunscreens). Another issue with many of these sunscreen products is that they completely block out the sun, our primary source of vitamin D, which can also lead to an increased risk of skin cancer as well as heart disease.
What should I do then?
Though the use of sunscreen has risen dramatically, and people are generally more afraid to spend too much time in the sun due to skin cancer awareness, every year the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer goes up by 4.2%. Incidence of skin cancer are at a record high and are continuing to rise at an alarming rate. That is why it is important to know exactly what you are protecting yourself with and the possible effects it can have on your body in the long run. Especially at a young age, it is important that parents take every possible measure to safeguard their children’s health. One great product is Conzerol Sunscreen; their formula is specifically designed to protect children, even under six months of age, from the sun without the use of the harmful chemicals found in many sunscreens. Their mineral based formula uses all organic ingredients and even contains a healthy dose of vitamin D (400 IU per ounce). Sunscreens such as this one, as well as covering up babies’ heads and eyes when out in the intense sun, will drastically reduce their chances of ever developing skin cancer later on in life.