Summer is right around the corner. It is literally just days away, which means people will find themselves spending many hours in the sun whether it be at the beach, park, or just outdoors in general. Along with the heat and outdoor activities come the many warnings to apply sunscreen and avoid staying out in the sun too long. While this is a very valid concern, it is also a catch-22.
New research is showing that an ingredient used in most sunscreen products can interrupt your endocrine system, causing harm to your thyroid, skin allergies and even cancer. Yes, the same thing you are using to prevent cancer can cause cancer.
The ingredient currently under scrutiny is Oxybenzone which is an organic compound that has been used since 1960 for its ability to protect against a broad-spectrum of ultraviolet light including UVB and short-wave UVA rays. The problem occurs because the body absorbs the compound into the blood stream.
Oxybenzone, actually alters reproductive and thyroid hormones. Animal studies have shown that these compounds are linked to lowered sperm count and sperm abnormalities, delayed puberty and altered estrous cycling.
This dangerous compound is found in the majority of the aerosol sunscreen sprays along with hair spray and certain cosmetics. Does this mean we’re safe if we choose another, non-spray sunscreen? Unfortunately not. 9 out of the 15 chemicals found in sunscreen are classified as endocrine disruptors causing disruption in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones as well as potentially causing abnormal development in fetuses and growing children.
Does this mean you should go out in the sun unprotected? Not exactly. There is an alternative: Mineral sunscreen. Instead of using Oxybenzone or other harmful compounds as UV filters, mineral sunscreen uses titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide neither of which have been shown to cause a disruption in hormones or have reports of skin allergies.
Prevention of skin cancer and premature aging is extremely important, but it is also important to understand the implications certain methods of protection can have. Make sure you are reading the labels of the products you are using and opt for a mineral sunscreen. Additionally, you should also be giving yourself at least 20 minutes of sun a day without sunscreen in order to boost vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is an important part of thyroid and overall health.
Use this information to have a fun, safe, healthy summer!