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Will You Change Your Sunscreen Habits Because of Recent Reports?

6/1/2010 2:15:55 PM

Tags: Environmental Working Group, sunscreen, vitamin d, question to readers

SunscreenRight on the heels of estimates of widespread vitamin D deficiencies in the U.S. population — which most of us get from exposing our skin, sans sunscreen, to the sun — comes the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2010 Sunscreen Guide. For this year’s report, the EWG reviewed 500 sunscreens to test the safety of their ingredients and the veracity of their marketing claims. Of those 500, EWG researchers recommend only 39 products. The guide cites false product claims and evidence that some ingredients may even accelerate the growth of skin cancer for those that didn’t make the cut.

The good news is, you can find their list of Best Sunscreens and look up the products you’re currently using via their website. The EWG's Top Sun Safety Tips pages are full of useful information, from specific product ratings to which ingredients to look for (zinc, titatanium dioxide, avobenzone or mexoryl SX) and which to avoid (oxybenxone, vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), and added insect repellent), as well as other sun safety tips. Aside from sunscreen, you can protect yourself by wearing clothing that offers more coverage, finding shade, avoiding midday rays and wearing sunglasses, among other things.

Between the (possible) need for more vitamin D — you can have your levels tested at your doctor’s office — and the sunscreen report, getting a few minutes of exposure and covering up with lightweight clothing for longer periods outdoors is starting to sound like a good idea. What do you think? Will you change your sunscreen habits based on the current reports?

 


Find out more: 

Via Utne Reader: The Best Sunscreen May Be No Sunscreen 
Environmental Working Group's 2010 Sunscreen Guide 
How Do You Get Your Vitamin D? 
Vitamin D: Sunshine and So Much More
Via The New York TimesVitamin D, Miracle Drug: Is It Science, or Just Talk? 

Photo: Istockphoto 

 



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Post a comment below.

 

Mandy Lange
1/2/2011 7:58:46 PM
Since my family has been becoming more aware of the chemicals that are in our day-to-day products, we are choosing not to wear sunblock unless we are going to be outside swimming. Skin cancer is more prevalent now than it was 100 or more years ago because of the products we are putting on our skin which gets absorbed into our bloodstream. The sun is a very natural thing that the body knows what to do with-you can't say that for sunscreens. Our skin does need a certain amount of sunlight for its own health. Putting sunscreen on our skin adversely affects how our body creates Vitamin D which predisposes us to low Vit. D levels. We need to quit being scared of the sun. Put it this way-what did native tribal peoples do about the sun what with their scanty dress? Surprisingly, their bodies seem to be able to handle the sun just like ours are supposed to be able to do-we just don't allow it too.

Mandy Lange
1/2/2011 7:52:35 PM
Since my family has been becoming more aware of the chemicals that are in our day-to-day products, we are choosing not to wear sunblock unless we are going to be outside swimming. Skin cancer is more prevalent now than it was 100 or more years ago because of the products we are putting on our skin which gets absorbed into our bloodstream. The sun is a very natural thing that the body knows what to do with-you can't say that for sunscreens. Our skin does need a certain amount of sunlight for its own health. Putting sunscreen on our skin adversely affects how our body creates Vitamin D which predisposes us to low Vit. D levels. We need to quit being scared of the sun. Put it this way-what did native tribal peoples do about the sun what with their scanty dress? Surprisingly, their bodies seem to be able to handle the sun just like ours are supposed to be able to do-we just don't allow it too.

Jehnavi
9/22/2010 1:23:53 AM
The danger of nanoparticles in sunscreens has been characterized by a number of organizations, including BlueScope Steel Colorbond roof after they started to rot and discovered it was because of sun protection used by installers interaction with sunlight Colorbond to attack. Friends of the Earth has been campaigning on this issue, and has a list of sunscreens on its website that contain nanoparticles. I can use this list to buy my sunscreen during a time! www.womenhealthcenter.net

terimelton
6/20/2010 10:34:10 AM
Oldtimers rarely got skin cancer. They were also rarely vitamin D deficient. But more scary, I saw a report on tv that most skin cancers tested contained Human Papiloma Virus, the same one that causes cervical cancer. When I read the list of chemicals on the packages of sunblock, they scare me worse than the risk of the skin cancer because they soak through the skin and into your blood stream. And if they use nano particles they soak in even that much better. So I wear a hat and a white long sleeved shirt if I am out in the middle of the day, and try to get most of my yard and garden work done in the morning or evening. It is dry here where I live and mosquitoes are not really an issue. Everything is a trade off.

Tara_9
6/14/2010 11:42:16 AM
Of course there are going to be false products out there. And doing the research and being aware of what you are buying is the first step to buying the right sunscreen. Just because there may be bad products out there does not mean people should skimp on the sunscreen! Skin cancer, especially melanoma (the deadliest kind) is on the rise. It saddens me that more people are not aware of the dangers of skin cancer. Although there are certain risk factors that make some people more prone to skin cancer than others, no one is completely safe from it therefore everyone should use sunscreen and be sun-smart. I would speculate vitamin D deficiencies are not due to not receiving enough sunlight. Of course, I am no expert but according to the American Cancer Society website, cancer.org, vitamin D can usually be acquired through the foods we eat and taking supplements. "Getting a tan" is not a healthy indicator. In fact, any change in darkening of the skin tone, is a direct result of sun damage! It is important that people become more aware of the risks of skin cancer and using the proper sunscreen can go a long way in preventing a potentially life threatening cancer from forming on the largest organ of the human body.

Kate R
6/8/2010 5:25:11 PM
I didn't give a lot of thought to sun exposure before last month. My friend Heather died at 33 (leaving behind two little boys) of melanoma. After having someone close to me actually die, I am thinking a lot about it. I am going to check out the list of "safer" sunscreens, but it's the personal experience that resonates with me right now. When I know someone personally that dies of Vitamin D defic, then I might change my mind.

Mel in WA_2
6/8/2010 9:07:43 AM
I read an article recently that suggested that while sunblock may indeed prevent skin cancers most are benign and easily removable, the ones that aren't are usually started due to bad burns under the age of 18 (like those spots where you forgot to sunblock), and the survivability rate for all skin cancers is in the 90's percentile. At the same time deaths from prostate and breast cancers can be tracked by latitude. Suggesting that vitamin D plays an important part in reducing the most deadly cancers. The article did underscore the importance of hats, etc to protect more delicate face and neck skin. Also we have to question whether something that affects gender in frogs is really that safe to slather on our kids every day. www.reverseskinaging.com/sunandcancer.html

Ashley Markulik_2
6/8/2010 7:42:11 AM
I never wear sunblock. I have worked outside all day (year round) for years and my skin is used to the sun. When the weather starts to warm up, the exposed areas just seem to know that it is time to start tanning. I recently had my vitamin D levels tested. The Doctor said I was one of the few people she had seen with normal levels. I am careful not to burn areas that are not normally exposed by my uniform( they do not tan as easily). I believe that if we use what nature gave us responsibly then we are much better off without all the extra chemicals that Doctors want to give us.

Julia Rain
6/7/2010 10:57:04 PM
I think that the best way to get your vitamin D is 15 minutes of sun exposure in the morning when the rays are less intense. You can get that just walking through your vegetable garden, checking the mailbox, watering your plants, morning yoga outside on the grass, etc. As for sunscreen. Most formulations coat your skin and don't allow it to breathe - hence the itch, redness, and heat. It probably does more damage than the sun itself just from that alone. And then there's the chemicals...who needs them. I live on Guam (13 degrees north of the equator) and it's about 90 degrees year round. I think slow exposure to the sun to increase your melanin production over the years is helpful. Even then, it's gotten hotter and the rays more intense in the last 20 years or so. And I've seen people start to get more sun damage than they used to in this region. Bottom line, cover up and limit outdoor activities to the morning and late afternoon/evening.

Deb_27
6/7/2010 10:37:58 PM
Thanks so much for posting this article. Mother Earth News always gives me the information I need. I use sunscreen and yes, I will change my use of it as a result of this article. I immediately checked both bottles I use frequently and discovered that both contain oxybenzone. Was relieved to see that neither of them contain any form of Vitamin A, because I use them frequently. I shopped tonight for safer products, had a hard time finding something but settled for a product containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as the lesser evils. I live in the south, am a gardener, swimmer and walker who spends a lot of time in the sun. I am also fair-skinned and burn easily without sunscreen. I try to stay inside during the worst hours (between about 11 and 2) but that's just not always possible, and hats won't stay on my head. I am not in the least worried about not getting "enough" sun or Vitamin D, given where I live and my lifestyle. But I do worry about skin cancer. Again, thanks so much for this article!

Deb_27
6/7/2010 10:25:20 PM
Thanks so much for posting this article. Mother Earth News always gives me the information I need. I use sunscreen and yes, I will change my use of it as a result of this article. I immediately checked both bottles I use frequently and discovered that both contain oxybenzone. Was relieved to see that neither of them contain any form of Vitamin A, because I use them frequently. I shopped tonight for safer products, had a hard time finding something but settled for a product containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as the lesser evils. I live in the south, am a gardener, swimmer and walker who spends a lot of time in the sun. I am also fair-skinned and burn easily without sunscreen. I try to stay inside during the worst hours (between about 11 and 2) but that's just not always possible, and hats won't stay on my head. I am not in the least worried about not getting "enough" sun or Vitamin D, given where I live and my lifestyle. But I do worry about skin cancer. Again, thanks so much for this article!

Lynda D
6/7/2010 8:42:50 PM
Never used sunscreen - and I never will. Because my father had skin cancer and I saw what he went through with chemical burns, surgery, radiation, and the like I spent most of my life being very careful to limit my sun exposure. However, I'm 62 and at this point it will take awhile for the cancer to develop. By that time it won't matter! So I enjoy the sunshine to it's fullest. Never been happier than now when I can enjoy the sunshine without a care in the world. I'm not ignorant - I just don't care anymore. My last few years are going to be spent enjoying all the good things God created for us.

harooney
6/7/2010 7:08:29 PM
I live in Australia where the hole in the ozone makes the suns rays very strong. My mother and brother have had skin cancers removed. I have fair freckly skin. I don't wear sunscreen unless I put myself in the rare position of being out in the sun during the day in summer. We live near the beach and the hottest days are the days that we DON't go to the beach. We stay inside and shelter from the sun. In the evening we go for a swim as the sun is setting. I have always felt that my skin reacted to sun screen, feeling hot, tingly and red so I have avoided it. My kids are taught to wear hats and rashies with board shorts when swimming and although it gets very hot here, no singlet tops are worn outside. always sleeved shirts and long shorts. It is interesting that their school had an outside play, hat wearing policy, but they have now changed it to the two hottest terms of the year only.

kballey@yahoo.com
6/7/2010 6:53:51 PM
As someone who believes in God and believes that God created the world, the sun, etc. with His children in mind, I cannot believe that the sun is harmful unless; like anything else; it is abused. People need to get over this irrational fear of the sun! Sunshine is HEALING and HEALTHFUL! Burns are NOT. So, don't burn, but get out into the sunshine!!

Heather_47
6/7/2010 2:48:50 PM
I personally do not and will not use chemically loaded sunscreens that the FDA recommends. I agree with almost everyone who's commented. They've said it for me.

Lori _1
6/7/2010 1:05:34 PM
I have to start by saying that anyone who doesn't think he/she needs sunblock because of skin tone is kidding him/herself. It isn't about not getting burned, rather it is about the fact that even a tan means cooking skin. The sun is so harmful, therefore, sunblock is available for albino, fair, olive, and dark skin. Secondly, I use a daily moisturizer with 15 for my face and a sunblock [for body] when I am going to be outside for prolonged periods of time. I won't change my sunblock because it has worked for me. Considering skin issues and ingredients, I won't change a thing.

Lori _2
6/7/2010 1:04:55 PM
I have to start by saying that anyone who doesn't think he/she needs sunblock because of skin tone is kidding him/herself. It isn't about not getting burned, rather it is about the fact that even a tan means cooking skin. The sun is so harmful, therefore, sunblock is available for albino, fair, olive, and dark skin. Secondly, I use a daily moisturizer with 15 for my face and a sunblock [for body] when I am going to be outside for prolonged periods of time. I won't change my sunblock because it has worked for me. Considering skin issues and ingredients, I won't change a thing.

Patricia_43
6/7/2010 11:46:07 AM
I have fair skin, being a red head I have to. But, that being said I have always sat in the morning sun having coffee with no sunscreen. I get at least 15 minutes of pure sun! Sunscreen with a spf over 35 is a waste of money. Everyone needs some pure sunshine it's the best way to get vitamin D, it helps with mild depression among other benefits. I'm surprised with the natural movement that people have not done the research to know this information. Being from the deep south most of us here do get enough sun. I think "transplants" think they have to slather themselves with sunscreen before they leave the house. Y'all come down here if you have the D deficiency you'll get plenty in a matter of minutes!

PlicketyCat
6/7/2010 10:48:03 AM
I haven't used sunscreen in years, and rarely used it before that. Granted, I am blessed with olive-toned skin that rarely burns and tans easily; but the only horrible burn I ever got was when I was wearing sunscreen -- which makes me wonder whether they help or hinder. I now live in Alaska, where we get almost no sun/daylight during the winter and Vitamin D deficiency can be truly devastating, and we get constant sun/daylight during the summer at intense polar magnitudes. I normally wear a ball cap if I'm going to be out during the midday, and a thin coating of good old zinc oxide across the bridge of my nose & cheekbones if I'm on the river where reflection somewhat negates the efficiency of hats. I've never been a big fan of putting chemical soup on or in my body when I could help it. More and more studies coming out about the risks of chemical absorption from sunscreens, the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency, and the cancer-fighting properties of Vitamin D just proves my hunches were right. I don't lay out half-naked toasting myself to a crisp, but I've never worried that what skin was "unprotected" if I caught some spare rays.

Robin Mooney_2
6/7/2010 10:18:56 AM
As I live in CNY and we rarely string together a week of sunny days, until the last 10 years I have not been overly concerned about using a sunscreen. I have only had one very red burn on my back (no blisters, etc), my skin is much more susceptible to burn as I have reached my 40's. I do use sunblock for this reason, though I am careful to expose my arms for 15 minutes several times a week. Thank you for alerting me to this report. I intend to do further research before switching sunscreens.

Elizabeth_27
6/7/2010 10:15:55 AM
I wrote an article about sunscreen and why I don't use it, last year. It can be found here: http://www.divatoolbox.com/self/health/1534-why-i-dont-use-sunscreen-and-no-i-dont-burn.html In short, there are too many studies out there that demonstrate the dangers of sunscreen from cancer causing ingredients to possible reduced vitamin D Levels. It has always amazed me how, since the advent of SPF sunscreens, people have been led to believe that sun exposure causes cancer when it's over exposure that is the problem. One study I found demonstrated that moderate exposure to sun was actually cancer preventing. So, no I don't use sunscreen. I usually use a hat and clothes, but for the last two summers I've also used St. John's Wort infused oil and only burned once when I forgot to put it on while roofing our house. Of course this last happened right after I wrote the article that I mentioned above.

Julie Casey
6/7/2010 9:13:10 AM
This is a perfect example of how science can get it wrong, whether for political or commercial gains or because they just jump to conclusions. Just like the global warming "doom and gloom" predictions, which are ever more proving to be unfounded; the hole in the ozone that is going to give us all cancer; and the bird flu, West Nile virus, H1N1, and killer bees are going to decimate our population. I, for one, am getting quite tired of bad science and the undereducated, gullible American public eating it all up.

Billie Kariher-Dyer
6/7/2010 8:46:35 AM
The current reports won't change my sunscreen habits. We already don't use any. We live in Southern California where for the first time I will burn if I am not careful, so I am just careful. I schedule my daughters swim lessons for morning classes and we stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day. I am not much of a hat wearer so I have to be sure to find the shade.

Wysteria
6/7/2010 8:38:22 AM
I haven't used sun screen for a few years. I have pale skin that burns easily and lots of freckles. I will use coconut oil sometime on my skin to help protect it but find much better results keeping my body healthy, wearing light clothing that covers me appropriately and avoiding the hottest sun of the day other then to get some good vitamin D exposure. Eating with the seasons really helps during the summer and making sure to get fresh tomatoes in my diet! YUM! Sun exposure is healthy for us and our skin...when we aren't ridiculous about it...it's only become a real issue since society began equating tan with beauty. Just my two cents...

mary_95
6/1/2010 7:10:57 PM
I don't think my grandmother used anything more than her trusty sun bonnet to protect her pale, freckled skin. Her ccomplexion was beautiful until her death. She and my grandpa were farmers. I and my freckles have followed her lead. I'm a hiker and gardener. I wear a bonnet or broad-brimmed hat in the garden and a bucket hat or ball cap when I'm hiking. I know I can't wear sleeveless shirts in the hot sun, I know i can't sit in a boat wearing shorts. I have resigned myself to the fact that I'm not a fashionista. But, I'm healthy and have good Vit-D levels!










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