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Chemical Sunscreen, Friend or Foe?

Designed as sunburn prevention, chemical sunscreen has become an overused-everyday product. The problem is sunscreen chemicals are endocrine disruptors, mutagens and carcinogens, block vitamin D production, kill coral reefs and transform male fish to female. So what are those chemicals doing to you?

A study of the 500 most popular chemical sunscreen products found nearly half may actually cause skin cancer and nearly all, 461 of 500, chemical sunscreen products were actually unsafe to use. None of the chemical sunscreen products prevent skin cancer - look at the label, you won't find that claim anywhere. In short, the overuse of chemical sunscreen is pandemic – contributing to many deficiency diseases affecting large populations across many different countries.

Today chemical sunscreen is a $5 billion a year industry. Chemical sunscreen, SPF (Sunburn Prevention Factor), is found in suntan lotion, lip balm, lipstick, facial creams, body lotion, shampoos and yes, even night creams. To turn an occasional-use product into a daily-use product cosmeceutical companies fabricated a state of fear known as Sun Scare.

Sun Scare aptly describes a movement whose sole purpose generates profits for cosmetics manufacturers, cosmetic dermatologists and beauty magazines – at the expense of your health. Their exaggeration of skin cancer risk, especially melanoma, has caused a vitamin D deficiency epidemic in the United States, Canada and other parts of the world - making vitamin D deficiency the greatest health problem of the century. Compounding the public education of the problem, vitamin D is the most misunderstood substance related to human health.

Vitamin D isn't a supplement or a vitamin. It's a secosteroid hormone made naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight or a sunbed. No dietary source for “The Sunshine Vitamin” even comes close to vitamin D levels made naturally from ultraviolet light B (UVB 315 nm–280 nm) exposure. The moment you apply chemical sunscreen you effectively stop all natural vitamin D production.

Why hasn't anyone reported this? First, the information is available if you know the right questions to ask and where to search. Second, chemical sunscreen labeling has been under review by government agencies for three decades, but nothing has been resolved. The chemical sunscreen industry spends $1 million a month in beauty magazine advertising, you can imagine what is spent on lobbying efforts. Third, Sun Scare has been so effective at scaring you out of the sun you are willing to ignore data that doesn't fit the “sun is bad” paradigm. Alright, so now what are you to do?

Consider this, stop using products containing SPF on the label except for sunburn prevention - the original purpose. Instead of using the product with the greatest SPF, use the product with the least SPF but still prevents sunburn for your skin type. There are natural ways to protect your skin from sunburn with diet and a suntan. Sunburn, not sunshine or sunbeds, is the real enemy and should be avoided, but not at all costs.

Nature got it right; you need sunshine like you need food, air and water. Never sunburn.

“FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer.” —U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2007

“Sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun.” —World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2001

“Despite the lack of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of modern sunscreens in preventing melanoma… it would be irresponsible not to encourage their use, along with other sun protection strategies…” —Brian Diffey, British Journal of Dermatology, 2009

“It is not known if protecting skin from sunlight and other UV radiation decreases the risk of skin cancer. It is not known if non-melanoma skin cancer risk is decreased by staying out of the sun, using sunscreens, or wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, sun hats and sunglasses when outdoors.” —National Cancer Institute, 2009

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