Consumer Alert: Sunscreen Chemicals Pose New Threat to Women
In a new study, British researchers found that common ultraviolet (UV) filters used in sunscreens were present in the breast tissue of 95 percent of women undergoing mastectomies. The findings contribute to a growing body of research that raises concerns about the long-term risks associated with the hormone-altering chemicals found in most conventional sunscreens.
The investigation was conducted by Philippa Darbre, a professor of oncology at the University of Reading, and consultant breast surgeon Lester Barr of the Prevent Breast Cancer research unit in Manchester. When the researchers examined the healthy breast tissue removed during mastectomies, small quantities of UV filters were found in one or more regions. The chemicals identified include octyl methoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3 and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, all of which have been shown to mimic the action of estrogen. This is significant because estrogen plays a role in approximately 70 percent of breast cancers.
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“Excessive exposure to oestrogen is a risk factor for breast cancer and these chemicals have the potential to add to the oestrogenic burden of the human breast,” Professor Darbre told the Daily Mail. “This raises broader concerns about the unknown effects of these and so many other chemicals present in breast tissue.”
According to BreastCancer.org, prior studies have shown that certain chemicals in these products may cause cancer in some people. And as research continue to mount, begs the question: If excess sun exposure, as well as sunscreens, are thought to be associated with health risks, how can consumers protect themselves?
Recommended Guidelines for Sun Protection
Stringent efforts to prevent very short-term sun exposure will likely have an adverse health effect over time. However, since sunburns also are a cancer risk, experts recommend following the measures below to protect yourself from too much sun:
- Choose a natural, mineral-based sunscreen. You can read about a few of our favorite tested and approved natural sunscreen options here or by browsing the options we’ve linked below.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat (click here for some great options) and lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, such as carrots, along with fruits, especially berries. These foods are rich sources of antioxidants, which can act as an internal sunscreen and boost skin’s natural “sun block.”
- Stay in the shade or plan your outdoor time in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is less intense.
When you expect to receive prolonged exposure to sunlight, you may want to use a sunscreen, but choose a product that doesn’t contain the chemicals the researchers found in the breast cancer patients. It’s not easy to avoid them, as they are included in many personal care products and are added to UV-protective clothing. Click here for a great organic sunscreen option. In addition, avoid spray formulations of all sunscreens because inhaling the chemicals could be problematic.
A safer sun-protective alternative is available: non-nano zinc oxide. This compound blocks sunlight, but it has the advantage of not being absorbed into the skin. It’s a thick film that consumers may find unpleasant to use. In an effort to improve its appeal, some sunscreen manufactures are putting nanoparticles of zinc oxide in such products. Yet unlike the thick film, the nanoparticles are absorbed into the skin, which presents a health hazard. Studies associate this form of zinc oxide with inflammation and neurotoxicity; therefore, avoid nanoparticle versions of these products.
Finding safer sunscreens can be difficult. Check the Environmental Working Group’s sunscreen guide here to see which ones are the least toxic.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.