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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is Sunblock Giving You Cancer?

Everybody knows using sunblock protects you from the suns harmful rays and reduces the chances you will develop skin cancer!  This is common knowledge!  Dermatologists and sunblock companies have been preaching this story to us since we were little kids.  But what if it's all a bunch of bull sh*t?

Before I continue, I must make it clear this is solely my opinion.  I have not viewed any studies (which I believe it would be almost impossible to conduct one because there are too many variables involved) testing this theory.  I am simply using inductive reasoning.

Vitamin D

It is thought that vitamin D helps reduce the incidence of cancer.  Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory affects, improves immune function and promotes the absorption of calcium.  The main way we get Vitamin D is from sun exposure.  A few foods contain Vitamin D such as fatty fish and eggs but sun exposure is the best way to increase your Vitamin D levels.  By limiting your time in the sun, or blocking the sun with sunblocks, you are limiting your bodies production of Vitamin D.  This can lead to an increased risk of developing cancer.  There have been studies which observed this relationship...

"Individuals living in southern latitudes were found to have lower rates of incidence and death for these cancers than those living at northern latitudes. Because sunlight/UV exposure is necessary for the production of vitamin D3, researchers hypothesized that variation in vitamin D levels accounted for the observed relationships."
This study clearly shows people living in a sunnier climate have less incidence of cancer.  The problem is we still don't know the duration of sun exposure.  Do the people in the southern climate spend an average of an hour in the sun?  3 hours?  8 hours?

How much sun exposure is enough to produce enough Vitamin D?  This question seems impossible to answer.  It depends on skin pigment, intensity of the sun's rays, time of day and how much skin is exposed.  I am sure there is an optimal time to spend in the sun to get the Vitamin D benefits while spending too much time will lead to increased risk of skin cancer.

I believe we need to listen to our bodies.  Ever spent a lot of time in the sun?  Have you noticed after a long bout of sun exposure you start to feel a burning sensation?  I believe this is your bodies way of saying "Enough sun!  Go find some shade!"  Listen to your body.  Get out of the sun for a while and let your skin heal.  Then go back out for more Vitamin D exposure!

Chemicals In Sunblock

Commonly found ingredients in sunblocks such as octinoxate, octisalate and oxybenzone are generally regarded as safe, but there are still concerns.  Some studies have found high levels of these ingredients can lead to adverse health affects.  That is why the FDA has limited the percentage that can be used for each ingredient.
  • Octinoxate: 7.5%
  • Octisalate: 5%
  • Oxybenzone: 6%
So if these ingredients are perfectly safe, then why does their use have to be limited?

There are also many "inactive ingredients" in common sunblock to think about.
All these ingredients are considered safe by the FDA and they are commonly found in many sunblocks.  Though considered safe, is it beneficial to be rubbing these chemicals on our skin on a daily basis?


Listen to your body.  If you are in the sun and feel a burning sensation, go find some shade.  If you must spend an extended period of time in the sun, try limiting your exposure by wearing clothing to cover your skin.  Don't stay out of the sun all together.  Your body needs sun exposure to be healthy!  That's why it feels good to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin!  And don't rub chemicals on your skin in order to protect yourself.  You may be doing more harm than good!


Organic products doesn't contain much of the harmful ingredients.

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