sun

Study: Many sunscreens increase skin cancer risk, FDA has known for a decade but done nothing

Thursday, July 14, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: sunscreen, cancer risk, health news

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(NaturalNews) A new report issued by the consumer protection organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that many popular sunscreens contain ingredients known to spur the growth and spread of skin cancer cells, which defeats their stated purpose of preventing skin cancer.

Data indicates that the sun's rays combine with certain sunscreen ingredients in the skin and damage skin cells, which can lead to lesions and tumors -- and worst of all, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allegedly been aware of this critical information for the past ten years, but has done absolutely nothing to warn people about it.

According to a report by AOL News, about half of the sunscreens tested contained vitamin A ingredients and derivatives like retinol and retinyl palmitate, which FDA's own studies have shown are photocarcinogenic, meaning they become toxic when exposed to sunlight. In fact, an older FDA report explains that sunscreens containing vitamin A ingredients cause tumors and lesions to develop and spread 21 percent faster than sunscreens that do not contain vitamin A ingredients.

Not to be confused with the vitamin A found in food and supplements that is absolutely essential for good health, vitamin A additives in sunscreen are different -- their interactions with ultraviolet sun rays actually produce carcinogens in the skin.

And yet the FDA continues to remain silent about the dangers of vitamin A in sunscreen, including in its recent updated sunscreen guidelines that make no mention of them (http://www.naturalnews.com/032819_sun_exposu...).

"There was enough evidence ten years ago for FDA to caution consumers against the use of vitamin A in sunscreens," said Jane Houlihan, EWG's senior vice president for research, to AOL News. "FDA launched this one-year study, completed their research and now ten years later, they say nothing about it, just silence."

When questioned by AOL News about the matter, an FDA spokeswoman responded by claiming the agency "thoroughly checked" its records and could not find any evidence of such a study. Apparently the agency did not look hard enough, though, because a report issued in 2000 by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) cites the same FDA research which found that vitamin A derivatives are both phototoxic and photocarcinogenic.

Vitamin A derivatives, of course, are not the only toxic ingredients in sunscreens either. According to the EWG report, hormone-disrupting chemicals like oxybenzone are prominent in many popular sunscreen brands. These same sunscreens also contain a slew of other mystery chemicals, many of which have never been proven safe or effective for use, and are likely carcinogenic as well.

In total, a mere 7.8 percent of the sunscreens tested by EWG as part of its annual analysis turned out to be "safe and effective" according to the group's safety standards. The other 92.2 percent, which represent hundreds of sunscreens on the market today, contain one or more ingredients known to be harmful to health, a shocking figure when considering their widespread use.

As far as safe sunscreens go, EWG also recently released its fifth annual "Sunscreen Guide," a database of more than 1,700 sun products from 292 brands that the group recognizes as having safe, non-toxic ingredients. You can access that database here: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/

For ideal health, however, regular exposure to sunlight without the use of sunscreen is vital for obtaining and maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D. Most sunscreens block the ultraviolet B (UVB) sun rays responsible for producing the vitamin D hormone in the skin -- and without unfettered exposure to these beneficial rays, it is virtually impossible to maintain optimal vitamin D levels apart from supplementation.

By gradually exposing your skin to the sun on a regular, limited basis, you will eventually develop tolerance to it, even if you are prone to burning. And by supplementing with the antioxidant astaxanthin, which functions as a type of natural "sunscreen" that protects your skin from the oxidative damage caused by too much sun exposure, you will increase your sun tolerance even further, to the point that you may even stop burning under moderate exposure conditions (http://www.naturalnews.com/023177.html).

The Vitamin D Council, a non-profit group dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of vitamin D for health, recommends that all individuals use the sun as their primary source of gaining vitamin D. Depending on your skin type, you will need anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour of daily sunlight exposure in order to achieve and maintain optimal levels (http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin...).

If natural sunlight exposure is not feasible on a daily basis, which is common for most people during the wintertime when the sun's decreased angle prevents an adequate amount of UVB rays from reaching the skin, daily supplementation with vitamin D3 is the next best option. The Council suggests taking anywhere between 1,000 and 6,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 a day, depending on your age (http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin...).

To learn more about vitamin D, including which other vitamins and nutrients are its necessary cofactors, and which diseases and conditions can be treated and prevented simply by maintaining optimal levels, visit:
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org

Sources for this story include:

http://www.aolnews.com/2010/05/24/study-many...

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