Just this week a study released by JAMA found that doctors recommended the use of sunscreen in less than 1% of patient visits. We are constantly being told to make sure we slather ourselves up with sunscreen before going outside. Here are three good reasons (and one not as good) why we might not want to use it:
1. Endocrine Disruption – Some sunscreens are defined as chemical sunscreens, meaning they are made with chemicals which absorb the sun’s UV rays. Some of these sunscreens contain chemicals called endocrine disrupters. Endocrines as defined in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (MW) are “a natural substance that is produced in the body and that influences the way the body grows or develops.” An endocrine disrupter would be something that would interfere with the body being able to produce these. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the body’s bloodstream. According to endocrine.org, of the 15 chemical based sunscreens on the market, nine are endocrine disruptors. When the production of these endocrines are interrupted, there could be problems with such things as early onset puberty, infertility, and low sperm counts, just to name a few.
2. Free Radicals – Because of these chemical sunscreen absorbing UV rays, it is possible that these chemicals may mutate when they are used up and then produce free radicals. Free radicals as defined by cancer.gov as “A type of unstable molecule that is made during normal cell metabolism (chemical changes that take place in a cell). Free radicals can build up in cells and cause damage to other molecules, such as DNA, lipids, and proteins. This damage may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases.” Is this a risk you want to take?
3. Vitamin D – Naturally sunscreens are used to block the sun. By doing this they also block vitamin D which is essential for your bones, muscles, brain function, helps fight off cancer and it works with your immune system to fight infections. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause a whole slew of health problems. For a complete list see the link below to the Vitamin D Council.
Finally, the “not as good” reason to not wear sunscreen. Back in 2012 there were reports that one sunscreen, made by Banana Boat, would ignite if exposed to a flame before it dried. At the time these products were recalled, but there have been no reports that the problem has been fixed.
While there are plenty of good reasons to recommend it, these are three good reasons not to use sunscreens. There are alternatives out there, especially of the natural variety. But even then, consumers should read the ingredient labels since there are cases where products labeled as being natural or using natural ingredients are not. There are also foods which are rich in anti-oxidants which can boost your risk to sun exposure. Apples, strawberries, red kidney beans and carrots are just a few of these. There are also natural vitamin supplements such as astaxanthin which helps your skin resist sunburn and of course you could always refuse to go outside.
Written by: Paul Roy