Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sunscreen: preventative care or poison?

Since spending all that time on my last blog entry...i have had a major dilemma on the whole sunscreen issue. It was my girlfriend who helped me find some of the interesting info on the importance of certain chemicals inside Sunscreens. She had read that there were only so many that helped block harmful UVA rays and that of these chemicals, only one or two were naturally occurring physical UVA barriers. Now i have known for years and years that many people thought that high SPF sunscreens did more harm than good and since writing about sunscreens i became troubled that i didn't include info on this side of the topic. After all, is it better to block out the damaging UVB and UVA rays with all sorts of chemicals that could cause health problems, or just cover up and avoid these chemicals and the possible health risks involved?
This has been bothering me for a few days now and i have looked online quite a bit to get a better idea on how dangerous the average bottle of sunscreen is. What a bunch of garbage there is written about the possible health effects of sunscreen and their chemical ingredients....OMG. BUT.... if you pick your way through the garbage there are some sensible articles which help to clear up the down side of protecting your skin with the average sunscreen. Many of the most common chemical sunscreen ingredients are "possible" carcinogens. "POSSIBLE"....... Hmmm.....an ingredient in the stuff that i cover my face in may give me cancer. GREAT!!!! Read this article to find out more: http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/62132 or this one too: http://www.katescaringgifts.com/wordpress/?p=24

One thing that i did notice from other articles is that many of the chemicals are absorbed by your skin which is why they possibly may do more damage to your body overall. One of the articles above speak about common chemicals in the sunscreen causing more ROS to occur in our own systems......like we are supposed to know what ROS is. Anyway that's why wikipedia was invented. According to wiki, "ROS are generally very small molecules......that form as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have important roles in cell signaling. However, during times of environmental stress ROS levels can increase dramatically, which can result in significant damage to cell structures." Sooooo i guess you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that this isn't that great for you. Its a dilemma though because getting burnt from the sun not only hurts but is sure to help send you on your way to the skin cancer doc....
Although very simple in its approach and quite old, this BBC article is quite interesting http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/411226.stm. From googling left and right and all over the web i think that i am going to make a few suggestions.
1. Do your own research on the subject as i think there will be more and more info on the whole sun and sunscreen health effects.
2. Try to get as little sun as you can.
3. When in the sun, cover up rather than lather up.
4. IF you can't cover up then put on some high factor "broad spectrum" UVA and UVB blocker that is sweat/water proof. You don't want to keep putting that stuff on over and over again.

5. Grow a beard.....and let it take the sun....it worked for the cave men.

6. Don't use PABA based products, or products with OXYBENZONE (BENZOPHENONE).
SH%T....there goes my favorite sunscreen Bullfrog since it has oxybenzone in it. Now i know i don't get sunburnt using Bullfrog, but is not getting sunburnt worth a little Oxybenzone on my nose? Jeez, i dunno......what do you think?

I have never worried about any of this health stuff before, and even after seeing that movie "Super Size" i would have gladly gone out and eaten a big mac. That's just me, but this does make ya think though. Why are there not more studies about the health risks of sunscreens? Do you think that the multi billion dollar cosmetics industry has anything to do with it? Maybe the FDA and other organizations are just too slow. Who knows?...for now its a hat and long sleeve t-shirt when i am out boating.....nothing new for many of us i guess. Please post any good links on the subject on the comments section. This sunscreen is now on my new wish list too: (wink)


Anonymous said...

Hey Eli,

Great article and a constant concern of mine too. On ly yesterday I came across the website www.treehugger.com (a vertiable mine field of help for living a greener lifestyle). Put sunscreen in their search and you find a lot of info but this article http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_6386369?source=rss&nclick_check=1

seemed really good and at the bottom lists a number of the 'best' products.

Thanks for this I will continue my research.


Anonymous said...

hmm - i think these articles and Alison's link should be in all those "life in antigua" type magazines... and also put in welcome packs by every hotel.. i remember when i used to rep, some folks lying out by the pool at Jolly Beach on silver foil covered beach mats!! i reckon the victorians had the right idea... did you ever see pics of those

Anonymous said...

Hey Eli,

Nice article. Most of what I've seen on this before has come off of those undying conspiracy theorist-alternative medicine web pages; generlly to be taken with a whole shaker full of salt. I took a look in the literature on the matter after we spoke the other night and did find some interesting stuff. I'll send you the references if you like, but there was a lot of research to show that various active agents in sunscreens do cause various cancers (and various hormonal effects) in rats and mice. Another article looked at accumulation and excretion of oxybenzone-3 in the urine of human subjects and found about 4% of the topically applied material ended up in the urine. That surprised me. Makes you think. On the upside, I may have found a new research project: designing UV blockers which do not get absorbed through the skin. All i need is about $2M worth of lab equipment and a kennel of mice for testing. Let me see what Jorge's got in the slush fund.

By the way, "ROS" stands for Reactive Oxygen Species, generally in the form of free radicals, superoxide, and various peroxides. Always floating around your cells in small amounts, but bad stuff when they get concentrated.