Sunscreen has been in the news a lot over the last couple of years. There are rumours about it not being safe to use and actually cause a lot of negative health effects. Others say sunscreen is perfectly safe, so this all can seem quite confusing. We took a look at what’s what and give you the information you will need to make a decision yourself about the question: is sunscreen safe for your health?
We have always been taught that sunscreen is a great – and often necessary – product to help you prevent skin cancer. Although many dermatologists and the FDA say it is perfectly safe, there are still some concerns. These come from the fact that sunscreen is supposed to be used for each and every day, over a very long period of time while it contains some ingredients that are not tested for long time usage. We are not here to tell you it is perfectly safe or damaging, but we do want to show you some of the sources and research that has been done over the last couple of years. This way we will be able to make a well informed decision.
An important not is that the sun provides our bodies with vitamin D. Vitamin D is extremely important for your natural immune system. Read all about it here.
Basically, there are 2 types of sunscreen. Physical blockers reflect sunlight and ultraviolet rays from the skin, making sure they won’t damage the skin. They usually contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Then there are chemical blockers, which use chemical ingredients that absorb the ultraviolet rays. These contain chemicals like aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.
As we said earlier, sunscreen is supposed to be used daily and for a long time according to its producers. As it is applied on your skin, which is the largest organ of the human body, there are risks that certain ingredients are absorbed by the skin, into the body. There have been studies that show that the ingredients oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone are absorbed after one use! And here is where the discussions on health effects start. These ingredients, unlike zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are not labelled safe by the FDA. Furthermore, they are not researched for long term health effects, while studies do show toxicity. Research shows that the chemical UV filters can be found in breast milk and urine samples of people who previously used it.
So what are the actual possible health risks? Let’s make a list:
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide might cause health issues when exposed through inhalation. For this reason, spray sunscreen might be a concern. Titanium dioxide is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The FDA notes that many of the chemical blockers in sunscreen need more safety testing.
It is important to note that many of the possible health risks of sunscreen might also be caused by other factors. There is a lot of research that shows negative effects of sunscreen on health, but we should not forget that there are many toxic substances in our lives these days. Think about the water you drink, cosmetics, the food you eat and even the air you breathe. This makes it a little bit harder to pinpoint the exact cause of the health issues. Non-the-less, the results seem very real.
We have mentioned just a few of the studies done on the safety of sunscreen. Even though there are many more, there are also a lot of organisations that provide research which shows sunscreen to be perfectly safe.
Here are a few.
Harvard University asked a dermatologist to answer some of the most common questions about sunscreen safety. You can read the article here, but the general consensus is that there are no health risks.
The American Academy of Dermatology expanded on similar questions and comes to the same conclusion; sunscreen is safe for your health. You can read their full report here.
First and foremost, we are not scientists. We have been active in sports and health for a long time, but we have not done any scientific research into sunscreen. Furthermore, we always think it is best that people make their own decision about their own health and life. We want to provide some information to make well informed decisions.
That being said, there are so many studies nowadays that suggest there might be health risks involved by using sunscreen, that we think it wise to not overlook these. Like we mentioned before, there are many toxics in our lives, so it is hard to say what might cause a certain health effect. Nonetheless, we know for certain that the sun has many health effects, which is why we love the sun. We do not use sunscreen but are cautious and careful not to over expose our skin to the sun. Just make sure you use the shade if possible and let your skin get used to sunlight. Obviously it isn’t wise and healthy to fly out to the beach and lay in the sun for a whole day, when your skin hasn’t yet acclimatized to such an intense amount of UV rays.
Just be careful and think about what you do. This should help you live a healthy life for a long time!
What do you think? Is sunscreen safe, or do you stop using it? Leave a comment below and let us know!