Cancer rates are increasing as we continue to surround ourselves with an extremely toxic environment. Everything from GMOs to pesticides and cosmetics, our world is full of cancer-causing agents that are now being exposed. People are beginning to wake up and take back control of their own health. Researching and actually looking into things rather than blindly believing mass marketing and media seems to be the new trend.
It’s ironic how people combat potential dangers from long-term sun exposure by rubbing several known toxic chemicals all over their bodies. Skin cancer used to be rare, but today one in every five Americans develop skin cancer; that’s around 3.5 million people diagnosed every year, and the incidence of melanoma has increased over 1000% in the last 20 + years. All of this comes with the increased use of sunscreen and the mass marketing of sunscreen coupled with the mass fear that seems to plague the planet with regards to sun exposure.
There is already sufficient evidence which suggests that sunscreen use promotes the spread of cancer, rather than preventing it. Personally, I have never used sunscreen in my life. For most of my childhood up to my late teens, I was in the sun for a minimum of 6 hours a day almost every day of the week. I admit I might have a bias because of my experience with the sun but, nonetheless, personal experience is personal proof. Considering the Sun provides life to our planet, it is only natural to assume that there is nothing to fear in regards to sun exposure.
Multiple studies from across the world have examined sunscreen, its contents and what happens with regards to penetration and absorption after applying it to your skin. One example comes out of the faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Manitoba, Canada (0). The purpose of the study was to develop a method for quantifying common sunscreen agents. Results demonstrated a significant penetration of all sunscreen agents into the skin. Basically, all of these chemicals are entering multiple tissues within the body. This is something that cannot be denied. So what are some of the main toxic chemicals contained in top name brand sunscreens? Before we go into that, I wanted to share this video with you.
Below I will provide evidence for only TWO ingredients in popular name brand sunscreens. Please keep in mind that there are a myriad of chemicals contained within popular sunscreens, and a majority of them (just like the ones I have outlined) have studies which link them to harmful effects on human health, as well as links to cancer. I wanted to keep this article shorter, but I encourage you to further your own research on the matter.
Oxybenzone is contained in multiple top brand sunscreen products. It’s used as a UV-B and short-wave UV-A filter and has been available for over 40 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates a prevalence of 96.8 percent oxybenzone exposure in the general US population.
A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (1) determined that the substance could be harmful to the homeostasis of the epidermis. Another study done by the Department of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology at the University of Goettingen (2) observed regulatory effects on receptor expression for oxybenzone that indicate endocrine disruption (hormone disruption).
A study out of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Zurich determined that oxybenzone, which blocks ultraviolet light, may mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and promotes the growth of cancer cells (5).
A study out of the Queensland Cancer Fund Laboratories at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia recognized the significance of systemic absorption of sunscreens prompted by multiple studies. Researchers discovered that oxybenzone inhibited cell growth and DNA synthesis and retarded cycle progression in the first of the four phases of the cell cycle (3). This takes place during eukaryotic cell division, a very significant step that leads to the synthesizing of mRNA and proteins in preparation for the steps leading towards mitosis. They determined that sunscreen causes mitochondrial stress and changes in drug uptake in certain cell lines.
A study published in the Journal of Health Science by the National Institute of Health Sciences in Japan examined UV stabilizers used in food packages as plastic additives (4). They found that some UV stabilizers in sunscreen products have estrogenicity in an MCF-7 breast cancer cell assay as well as an immature rat uterotrophic assay. They tested a total of 11 UV stabilizers. 20 kinds of benzophenones were tested using the same assay to demonstrate their estrogenic activity.
A study published by the Department of Chemistry at the University of California determined that oxybenzone produces excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death (as illustrated in an earlier study presented in this article) and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease (6).
Another study out of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich shows a large array of developmental and reproductive toxicity (7).
A study published by the Department of Biological Systems Engineering by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln looked at how commercial sunscreens are penetration enhancers. They determined that the active ingredients within sunscreen, including oxybenzone enhance dermal penetration of the herbicides (8). This study came about because of the fact that agricultural workers are often encouraged to use sunscreen to decrease the risk of UV-related skin cancer.
The list goes on and on, and the studies seem to be never ending. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor, and it clearly penetrates deeply into this skin. Like many other skin care products, there is a lot of controversy around this. The fact that major financial institutions who own the pharmaceutical and medical industry produce these sunscreens poses further suspicions.
Titanium Dioxide is another common ingredient within sunscreen, predominately baby sunscreen (9). As illustrated earlier in the article, what goes on your skin goes into your skin. Specifically with titanium dioxide, studies have shown that large concentrations are absorbed into the epidermis and dermis (12). Particularly with sunscreen, researchers have conducted experiments that show chemicals contained within sunscreen penetrate the skin at a high percentage. Do you really want something like titanium dioxide inside of your body? How about inside your baby? Titanium dioxide was recently classified as being possibly carcinogenic to humans by the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (10). Titanium dioxide also meets the classifications of a carcinogen by the National Office of WHMIS.
The normal titanium levels in the blood of males between 24 to 66 years of age were found to be 11.2 micrograms. This obviously increases with sunscreen usage. A study out of Germany determined that oral administration of this chemical results in gastro-intestinal absorption. (11).
Oral administration of titanium dioxide nano-particles caused a wide distribution in the liver, spleen and kidneys as well as causing lung tissue and heart tissue injury during an animal study done by the National Centre for NanoScience (13). Another study done by the National Institute of Health in Portugal found that the carcinogenic effects of titanium dioxide nano-particles induce tumour-like phenotypes in human gastric epithelial cells (14).
A 2009 study conducted by the VaxDesign Corporation illustrated that titanium dioxide provoked inflammation of an in vitro human immune construct (15). Another study done by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology by Yamagata University in Japan found that titanium dioxide converted benign mouse fibrosarcoma cells into aggressive tumour cells (16).
A study conducted by the Finish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, Finland illustrated that titanium dioxide has genotoxic effects (17), and that it also induces DNA damage and reduced cell viability. Another study out of Taiwan determined that titanium dioxide can induce oxidative damage to human bronchial epithelial cells (18).
I’m going to stop here with titanium dioxide; there are many more studies but I hope I’ve clearly shown that it can definitely pose a risk to our health. It’s evident that people should be more aware of what chemicals are in the sunscreens that they are applying on their bodies.
There are a large assortment of other chemicals within many popular name brand sunscreens for which the story is no different. Multiple studies are available for a majority of chemicals contained within name brand sunscreens that can have harmful effects on human health. The fact that multiple studies indicate a majority of chemicals enter into the body should encourage people to further investigate what they do to it. Most people don’t realize that applying cosmetics is almost the same as eating it, either way they still get into your body and into your bloodstream through the skin. This article outlines only two of the main ingredients found in popular sunscreen brands; I encourage you to seek out alternative ways to protect your skin from sun burn. If you are interested in the other chemicals within sunscreen, there are many studies which provide information on the matter.
Cell toxicity studies done by Dr. Yinfa Ma, Curator Professor of Chemistry at Missouri S&T, and his graduate student, Qingbo Yang, suggest that when exposed to sunlight zinc oxide (a common ingredient in sunscreen) undergoes a chemical reaction that may release unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals seek to bond with other molecules, but in the process, they can damage cells or the DNA contained within those cells. This in turn could increase the risk of skin cancer (22).
The Sun is Good For You? What About Sunburns? Concluding Remarks
As many of you probably already know, humans require sunlight exposure for vitamin D. Sunburns do indeed cause a concern, and there are many studies that link sunburns to melanoma. Due to different factors such as cultural changes and fear mongering our skin is not used to large amounts of sun exposure like it was in the past. If you spend a large portion of your time in the sun, your skin adapts to build a natural immunity. We are naturally built to receive sunlight, and we have gone backwards in this regard. There are alternative ways to protect yourself from sunburns. You can buy natural sunscreens without the harmful chemicals. Questioning big name advertisements is crucial to our health in these times of information awareness.
The depletion of the ozone layer only happens seasonally, in winter and spring. We are generally not out in the sun at this time, and do not usually apply sunscreen. Depletion is also heavier over Antarctica and the Arctic as well as the equator, yet cancer rates are not higher in those geographic regions (19). There are people who get melanoma who are less exposed to the sun than others. Research also shows that incidence of melanoma increases in people who are not exposed to the sun. The lack of vitamin D has a strong correlation to melanoma instances.
Only 10 percent of all cancer cases are attributed to all forms of radiation, and UV is a very small part of that (20). When we think of skin cancer we automatically want to blame the Sun, but what about other causes of skin cancer that are out there such as arsenic which is found in a number of things we ingest or work around (21). Not to mention pesticides, leather preservatives and glass.
Sunscreens are a huge contributor to toxins in the body, being absorbed within seconds of application. Is it not important to know what you are putting into your body? We now live in a culture where we fear the Sun, which is ironic considering the Sun has created all life on Earth. Its important to remember that fear eventually manifests as reality. The Sun has many health benefits, so using natural products will ensure that you receive these benefits while keeping your skin safe, as well as ensure you aren’t absorbing the dangerous chemicals found in most sunscreens today.
Arjun Walia -- I've been researching into many of the topics I write about for several years, a few of my interests stem from childhood. A combination of research and life experiences have led me down the journey I find myself on today. I've always questioned the world around me, and have had a deep desire to change the world the best way I know how. If you'd like to know more about me, my life experiences, 'education,' or anything else, feel free to email me!:) firstname.lastname@example.org. This article first appeared at Collective-Evolution.