Happy Fourth of July! Today many Americans will celebrate our nation’s Independence Day with fireworks, backyard cook-outs and beers. We’ll spend copious amounts of time outside today chatting with friends, neighbors and family as we enjoy this national holiday.
When you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors what’s something you do to protect your skin? Lather on the sunscreen of course. But be careful today with what you slather on to your skin. Some sunscreens are toxic to your body and can actually increase your chances of getting some cancers.
To answer whether sunscreen is toxic, you must look at the active ingredients on the bottle. Although any sunscreen is toxic if consumed; depending on the ingredients, some are toxic when applied topically. You might not think about what you apply to your skin much, unless if you have a skin allergy, but you may want to read the label and opt for sunscreens that have safe ingredients.
If your sunscreen has the active component, oxybenzone, in it, you could be applying a hazardous substance to your skin. This organic compound may be referred to as benzophenone-3, BHA or one of the following trade names: Milestab 9, Escalol 567, KAHSCREEN BZ-3 or Eusolex 4360.
This substance is usually a shade of pale yellow and is a component of many organic solvents. Many manufacturers utilize it as a photostabilizer in products like hairspray, nail polish, anti-aging creams, lip balm, lipstick, conditioner and fragrances. It’s associated with photoallergic reactions. The substance absorbs through the skin at a high rate, so the body absorbs a high amount of it. In fact, of the individuals who were tested, people absorb at least nine percent of the dosage, which was determined by a urinalysis. Additionally, statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention denote it contaminates nearly all, 97 percent to be exact, of Americans who use it. More women tested positives for the substance than men.
Oxybenzone is legal in American products. However, due to the possibility of numerous side effects, Japan restricts the use of it in cosmetic products. In Japan, a manufactured product may only consist of a certain amount of the ingredient.
Oxybenzone causes changes on a cellular level. It stimulates the production of reactive oxygen species in high quantities. The reactive oxygen has the possibility to affect how cells communicate with one another. In some cases, the compound will trigger cell mutations. Due to the excess oxygen, it could even cause cellular death.
Many people have a skin reaction from oxybenzone. Of all the sunscreen chemicals, this particular one is associated with allergic reactions triggered by the sun more often than other active sunscreen ingredients. One study conducted on 82 patients who had photoallergic contact dermatitis revealed more than 25 percent of the individuals experienced a photoallergic reaction to the substance.
One study conducted on the active ingredient indicated there may be a link between development effects when used in high quantities. However, the animal studies were limited, and the results weren’t 100-percent conclusive that oxybenzone causes birth defects or reproductive issues. However, a study conducted on mothers who had high levels of oxybenzone throughout their bodies were more likely to birth low-birthweight children. A low-birth weight is linked to hypertension, type II diabetes and coronary heart disease in adulthood.
Many studies have shown that the ingredient causes toxicity in the cardiovascular system. In fact, the animal studies revealed at moderate doses, the person may experience cardiovascular symptoms.
Despite the cardiovascular complications caused by oxybenzone, the most prevalent concern about using sunscreen with this ingredient in it is the endocrinological consequences it may have. There’s a moderate amount of evidence that supports the compound’s ability to interfere with the endocrine system. Studies conducted on animals and cells show that when the body attempts to process and detoxify the substance, it may disrupt the hormone system. Both the chemical and its metabolites weaken estrogenic and anti-androgenic effects. Another study showed men who used a sunscreen with oxybenzone for one week had a significant decrease in testosterone levels. When testosterone decreases, the male may experience moodiness, a decreased sex drive or even difficulty getting and maintaining an erection.
Sunscreen is designed to decrease the amount of ultraviolet radiation you intake from the sun. Ultimately, this means sunscreen decreases your risk of developing skin cancer. Conversely, studies show sunscreens containing oxybenzone could actually increase your risk of certain types of cancers, in particular, in women. This is because this sunscreen ingredient mimics the results of having estrogen in your body. It has the potential to stimulate cancer cells to grow. One Oxford University student stated the substance has the potential to cause damage to your DNA. Once it damages your DNA, you’re actually increasing your risk of skin cancer.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t avoid sunscreen altogether. Instead, make sure you read the ingredients carefully. Always choose a sunscreen that’s void of BHA.
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