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Poisonous Sunscreen Warning Revealed by Dr. Oz

Tim Boyer's picture
Poisonous Sunscreen

It’s that time of the year when many people begin applying sunscreen to protect their bodies from harmful UV rays. But according to a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, some sunscreens may actually be poisonous to you and your children.

“Could your sunscreen be dangerous? There’s a growing concern that the very thing you use to protect your skin may cause rashes, hormonal problems, and some people may even suggest…cancer,” says Dr. Oz as he introduces special guest Dr. Arthur Perry who believes that some sunscreens may be causing more harm than good.

“Through my research, Dr. Oz, I’ve learned that chemical sunscreens are actually called endocrine disruptors―and many of them are,” states Dr. Perry as he explains that the chemicals in some sunscreens can interfere with the normal functioning of the hormones of the body. According to Dr. Perry, this hormone disruption can potentially lead to development of cancer―particularly breast cancer.

Furthermore, Dr. Perry points out that exposure to the fetus in pregnant women using sunscreen can lead to low birth weight in newborns, precocious puberty in very young girls and small testes and low sperm count in boys as they mature.

Dr. Perry tells viewers that part of the problem is that copious amounts of sunscreen are applied leading to ounces-worth of sunscreen chemicals that penetrate the skin and make its way to the circulatory system and the body’s organs. In addition, he refers to studies that have shown that some sunscreen ingredients are associated with cancer in lab animal testing conditions.

Dr. Oz tells viewers that he contacted endocrine specialist Dr. Thomas Zoeller about whether he felt that Dr. Perry’s concerns about some sunscreens are warranted. Dr. Zoeller replied with the following statement:

“Dr. Perry makes an important point that sunscreens are applied to skin in a formulation that serves as a drug delivery system and that some sunscreens are known to interfere with hormone action. The way in which these chemicals can interact with hormone systems could plausibly increase the risk of various cancers as well as other endocrine disorders.”

However, Dr. Perry states that this does not mean that people should stop using sunscreens. Rather, that people should be choosing sunscreens that have the right chemicals to go on―rather than in―our skin that will not cause harm.

One example of a sunscreen ingredient that he believes should be avoided is that of Benzophenones―a chemical that prevents UV light from damaging plastic packing materials that is also used as a UV blocker in sunscreens and has been found to be easily absorbed into the skin and suspected of causing free radical formation in tissues.

“There are safe alternatives to chemical sunscreens,” says Dr. Perry.

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However, not all dermatologists are in agreement with Dr. Perry’s sunscreen views and liken his warnings to yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre room. One such dermatologist is special guest Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D. with the American Academy of Dermatology.

“There are no studies done that shows an increase in risk to humans. In fact, the data is speculative because the studies that have been done, have been done in test tubes and lab animals. And as we know as scientists, just because something happens in a lab rat doesn’t mean it’s going to cause harm to a human,” says Dr. Tanzi. “We need to make sure that we are not giving people any reason not to use their sunscreen,” she adds pointing out that sunscreen is an important tool for preventing skin cancer and that fear of harmful chemicals in sunscreens is an unnecessary fear.

In spite of their opposing opinions of whether or not some sunscreens pose a health hazard, doctors Perry and Tanzi do agree that they share a preference for some particular sunscreens over others.

“Back in the old days you knew who wore sunscreen because you could see the white on their bodies. But then, in response to vanity, the cosmetic industry changed the way sunblock is produced and some say that this change is harmful to our health. But both Dr. Perry and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi agree ‘If you think white, you’ll get it right,’” says Dr. Oz as he reveals to viewers what they should look for in a safer sunscreen:

• Choose a sunscreen that has either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both. The zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are actually small particles that have been ground down to a small size and work by reflecting UV A and B rays away from the skin. And, unlike chemical sunscreens, are not absorbed into the body.

• When applied to the body, the sunscreen should be visible as a white layer on the skin. However, special formulations that are more expensive will not be as visible on the skin because the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have been ground down to a smaller particle size referred to as “micronized.”

• Do not invest in the newest zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens advertised as being ground down even further to “nano” particle size, because of the risk of other potential health issues from applying such fine scale particles to the skin.

• Apply an ounce of SPF 15 rated broad-spectrum sunscreen every day and an SPF 30 when you’re on the beach or working in the garden with reapplication every 2 hours.

For a full list of Dr. Oz-recommended sunscreens and skin health advice, follow this link to the Environmental Working Group website.

For an informative article about a new study that claims that sun exposure offers a newly discovered health benefit that may actually encourage indoor and outdoor tanning, follow this link to an article titled “New Benefit Discovered from Tanning Could Negate Cancer Risk.”

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference: The Dr. Oz Show― “Oz Investigates: Is Your Sunscreen Poisonous?”