Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chemicals in Sunscreen

I had a conversation with a good friend today who shared a story about her daughters' visit to the beach with their grandparents.  She said that they all had a good time and the grandmother had a glowing report on the girls' behavior in general.  But then she said one interesting thing...that one of her grand daughters uses too much sunscreen.  "I told her she just loads it on, she's not going to get a tan at all."  Needless to say, my friend responded to her mother with "Yeah, and she won't get burnt either, and therefore lessens her chances of gettng skin cancer."  (Atta girl)

She went on to mention to me that her fair-skinned daughter has "endured teasing from friends and people who just think their comments are funny, considered it, and at the cusp of teenagerhood has decided that fewer wrinkles and a lesser chance of skin cancer at 50 is more important than a tan now."  (Atta girl..again)  It's sad to think that we have to fight not only ignorance about skin cancer, but peer pressure as well.

But the point I wanted to bring up is that the grandmother apparently muttered something about "chemicals" when discussing the use of sunscreen.  This is an arguement/opinion that I've heard before, so it prompted me to dig into the article I linked in my last post.  Here's what the article had to say:

With regard to ingredients, many dermatologists recommend products with micronized titanium or zinc oxide as the most effective sun blockers that leave no white residue on the skin. There is some concern, based on animal studies, that the most popular ingredient in sunscreens, oxybenzone, may disrupt natural hormones, but the scientific evidence is scant.

Another chemical, retinyl palmitate, sometimes listed among the inactive ingredients, has been linked to skin cancers in animal studies. Because it is converted into a compound that can cause birth defects, it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or likely to become pregnant.

However, although more studies of these possible risks should be done, Consumer Reports concluded that “the proven benefits of sunscreen outweigh any potential risks."

- NY Times

Chemicals in any lotion or cream is a valid I won't downplay anyone's fears.  At the same time, one has to learn that sun exposure can be a deadly thing as well.  A "simple" sunburn can have major consequences.  So if you have a fear of sunscreen chemicals, seek reliable natural alternatives.  Stay in the shade...wear protective clothing...wear a proper hat...research "natural" sunscreens (if they exist and are reliable).  Don't assume a "base tan" provides ample doesn't.  Whatever your sun smart and sun safe!

And to my friend's mother, I'd say, "your grand daughter isn't the palest girl on the beach, she's the brightest girl on the beach!"

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