As a kid I spent hours in the sun swimming, running, tennis and biking without a thought in the world about skin cancer. But at age 44 I developed a very aggressive form of melanoma on a mole on my hand which was caught early so I did not have to treatment just removal.
I have not had a re-occurrence since but looking back, I was struggling with gut issues, high stress, and hormonal imbalances – so was it the sun exposure or….???
At first, I slathered on sunscreen – the higher the SPF the better. But then I started to question this advice when I learned more about endocrine disruptor chemicals commonly used in sunscreens, facial lotions, and cosmetics which are implicated in cancer especially breast cancer.
Rate of Skin Cancer Increases Despite Using Sunscreens
The rate of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970s with the melanoma death rate for white American men, which has escalated sharply from 2.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1975 to 4.5 in 2015 according to National Cancer Institute.
So Why Are Sunscreens Not Working?
Don’t they protect our skin from the damaging UVB radiation? Maybe they might be causing skin cancer because of some of the ingredients that are used to block UVB rays that are now known to be endocrine disruptors and may promote tumor growth.
Sunscreen Block The Production of Vitamin D
The one “vitamin” that is actually produced in the skin from sun exposure has been known to protect us from cancer. Research shows that vitamin D has protective effects against many forms of cancer however as of today no direct link to skin cancer protection.
Most skin sunscreens block UVB rays which are essential for the production of vitamin D. You need to make sure that you are exposed to some sun to produce this vitamin (which is actually a hormone). Limit to 20 minutes of sun exposure and make sure to get your levels checked annually to assure you have adequate vitamin D levels.
Staying in The Sun Too Long
This is especially true with high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreens. You know the 50 SFP products. These products protect against sunburn BUT not the damaging UVA rays.
These products protect against UVB radiation which burns the skin but not the UVA rays which penetrate the skin, suppress the immune system, accelerate skin aging, and may lead to skin cancer.
Vitamin A Added to Sunscreens May Cause Cancer
Vitamin A in the form of “retinyl palmitate”, if often added to sunscreens to provide anti-oxidant benefits despite the fact that there are studies that show retinyl palmitate may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.
Used in anti-aging night creams it acts as an anti-oxidant and supposedly has anti-aging effects. So, I am going with the studies that link it to tumor growth as most of the sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate also contain other hormone disruptor chemicals.
Key Chemicals in Sunscreens – Oxybenzone, Octinoxte
Very commonly used in sunscreens to block UVB rays BUT they can penetrate the skin, get into the bloodstream, and act like estrogen in the body.
Commonly referred to as endocrine disruptors, these chemicals can lead to hormonal imbalances, impact the thyroid, and increase your risk for cancer. One study found that oxybenzone was linked to endometriosis (estrogen-related disorder commonly seen in younger women) in older women.
Most Contain Parabens and Phthalates – Known Hormone Disruptors
These ingredients are commonly found in skincare products and cosmetics especially foundations along with sun protection chemicals.
Both of these chemicals are known endocrine disruptors so along with oxybenzone, octinoxte you are doubling down on chemicals that are implicated in cancer especially breast cancer.
What is The Best Protection Against Skin
The best protection against skin cancer – support your immune system with anti-oxidants, reduce exposure to chemicals/toxins, and use safe skincare products. My favorite products for protecting the skin contain zinc oxide in non-nano particles allowing for a smooth application that does not have a pasty look on the skin.
Zinc oxide protects against both UVB (Burning Rays) and UVA (Aging) rays. My favorite brand of sunscreen products is BeautyCounter. Want to learn more about BeautyCounter – contact me today to learn about this clean, safer, and better beauty cosmetics and skincare line of products.
Eileen Schutte, MS, CN, FMN – One of my biggest passions is to help clients overcome autoimmune skin conditions like psoriasis, naturally. My other passion is nutrigenomics, speaking to your genes through nutrition, and providing a truly personalized nutrition approach. I hold a master's degree in functional nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut graduating Summa Cum Laude. After completing my masters I went on to get my certification in functional nutrition medicine, and am a Certified LEAP Therapist (food sensitivities program).