• Sunscreen or carcinogenic chemical skin bath?

    Sunscreen, the name itself implies safety. It conjures notions of a product that will shield your sensitive outer layer from the rays of the powerful sun. Think again, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that released a report this week stating only 16 percent, or about 128 products, of nearly 800 over-the-counter sunscreens are both “safe and effective.” But the ratings are not based on lab tests. Instead, EWG used approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies of 17 sunscreen chemicals approved for use in the U.S., as well as the safety of sunscreen ingredients liked to 60 industry and government databases on chemical hazards.

    The FDA has been debating sunscreen safety standards for 29 years, but has yet to finalize mandatory standards. Currently, SPF only refers to ultraviolet-B protection, the spectrum most responsible for skin cancer. Excerpt taken from :,2933,285438,00.html

    However, the same product designed to prevent skin cancer may contain an active ingredient that research showed could cause ovarian, prostate and breast cancer.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 showed that 97 percent of Americans who have used sunscreen are absorbing the chemical oxybenzone — an ingredient that becomes toxic when exposed to the sun.

    “When oxybenzone starts to get broken down, it could cause cellular damage,” said family practitioner Dr. Daliah Wachs. Wachs said people still need sunlight for vitamin D, as well as sunscreen, but both in moderation. Excerpt taken from :

    “Many sunscreens available in the U.S. may be the equivalent of modern-day snake oil, plying customers with claims of broad-spectrum protection but not providing it, while exposing people to potentially hazardous chemicals that can penetrate the skin into the body,” said Jane Houlihan, EWG Senior Vice President for Research. “When only 8 percent of sunscreens rate high for safety and efficacy, it’s clear that consumers concerned about protecting themselves and their families are left with few good options.”

    This year, new concerns are being raised about a vitamin A compound called retinyl palmitate, found in 41 percent of sunscreens. The FDA is investigating whether this chemical, when applied to skin that is then exposed to sunlight, may accelerate skin damage and elevate skin cancer risk. FDA data suggest that vitamin A may be photocarcinogenic, meaning that in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the compound and skin undergo complex biochemical changes resulting in cancer. The evidence against vitamin A is not conclusive, but as long as it is suspect, EWG recommends that consumers choose vitamin A-free sunscreens.

    EWG has again flagged products with oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting compound that penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream. Biomonitoring surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have detected oxybenzone in the bodies of 97 percent of Americans tested.
    In all, EWG researchers assessed 1,400 sunscreen products, including beach and sports lotions, sprays and creams, moisturizers, make-up and lip balms. The 39 top beach and sports products that earned EWG’s “green” rating all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. EWG researchers were unable find any non-mineral sunscreens that scored better than “yellow.”

    EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. excerpt taken from:

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