It’s summertime and the American Academy of Dermatology is once again out in full force warning you to avoid the sun and slather yourself in sunscreen.
My advice is to disregard their dangerous advice… Sunscreens are loaded with chemicals that produce free radicals, disrupt hormones — and can even lead to cancer.
The worst part is most people think sunscreens just sit on the surface of the skin. For years, I’ve been fighting this misperception and revealing the real truth… these chemicals are absorbed, immediately finding their way into your bloodstream.
A clinical trial funded by the FDA and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association recently confirmed this.
Researchers studied the effects of the active ingredients in four popular sunscreens applied topically and found that the chemicals were absorbed into the bloodstream. And at higher concentrations than an established FDA threshold.1
Does Your Sunscreen Contain These 2 Toxins?
The FDA continues to tell us that sunscreen is safe, despite the toxic chemicals.
Take titanium dioxide (TiO2), for example. This is a common toxic chemical additive found in sunscreens. Sunscreen makers advertise it as beneficial — because it won’t clog your pores.
Just like heavy metals, TiO2 accumulates in your body and gets into your bloodstream.2 It’s been linked to inflammation, diabetes, cancer, liver and kidney damage, as well as heart and brain damage.
TiO2 is completely alien to the human body and most of Europe has banned it. Yet in the U.S. last year, the TiO2 industry made revenues of more than $13 billion.3
Another toxic sunscreen ingredient is benzophenone. This free radical attacks your fat cells, protein cells and your DNA, which can cause hormone imbalances and premature aging.4
But there’s more…
When this chemical comes in contact with the sun, it actually increases your risk of skin cancer. Researchers at the University of California found that benzophenone boosts the production of free radicals in your skin by 64% after only 10 minutes in the sun.5
But there’s an even bigger reason to stop slathering sunscreen all over your body… It blocks your vitamin D production by a whopping 98%.6
And this is a huge issue. Studies concluded that 61% of all Americans are vitamin D deficient.7
You see, you evolved to get vitamin D from the sun. But today, we cover ourselves with clothes. When we do venture out into sun, we cover ourselves with sunblock. But by doing this, you don’t get exposed to enough of the sun’s UVB rays — and that means your body can’t make enough vitamin D.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me talk about vitamin D before. Every cell in your body needs it to survive. And when you don’t get enough of it, your body doesn’t function properly.
There are dozens of studies that back up this vitamin’s power to fight cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers recently discovered why the “sunshine vitamin” is so necessary for your good health. They found that vitamin D triggers a gene that reduces inflammation at the DNA level.8
And as you probably know, inflammation is the root cause of all chronic disease.
My advice to patients is to practice what I call gentle tanning. This can give you all the vitamin D you need without burning. And without having to use toxic sunscreens.
Gentle tanning allows your body to build up melanin. That’s the pigment that causes skin to tan. It’s your built-in sunscreen.
By slowly developing this basic tan, you can eventually stay in the sun longer without burning.
Sit in the sun for a 15- to 20-minute period. Do this every day, or at least a few times a week. And be sure to expose the parts of your body that are usually covered by clothing. Roll up your sleeves and pant legs. But do wear a hat. Your face gets enough natural sun exposure every day.
Protect Your Skin If You’re Out All Day
By slowly developing a basic tan, you can eventually stay in the sun longer without burning.
If you are going to be out in the sun for a long time, and you haven’t had a chance to let your body generate enough melanin to darken you up a bit, you should use a natural sunscreen.
- Use nature’s sunblock — zinc. When I’m in the tropics, I choose zinc as a safe sunblock. Unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb UV light, zinc oxide sits on top of your skin. It reflects and scatters both UVA and UVB rays so they don’t penetrate your skin.
Apply zinc oxide generously on exposed skin at least 30 minutes before prolonged sun exposure. Look for micro-fine zinc oxide. It spreads on your skin smoothly and evenly. And it’s so fine it’s nearly invisible. No one will even know you’re wearing it.
- Mix it with cupuaçu. Zinc oxide works even better when you mix it with a little cupuaçu (pronounced “koop-oo-ah-soo”) butter. Natural flavonoids and antioxidants in this Brazilian rainforest fruit act as a sunscreen. They protect you from UVA and UVB damage.
Just make sure your cupuaçu is “cold-pressed.” Heat processing destroys the antioxidants.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1Matta MK, et al. “Effect of sunscreen application under maximal use conditions on plasma concentration of sunscreen active ingredients: A randomized clinical trial.” JAMA. 2019;321(21):2082-2091.
2Duan Y, et al. “Toxicological characteristics of nanoparticulate anatase titanium dioxide in mice.” Biomaterials. 2010;31(5):894-899.
3Neslen A. “EU to opt against health warning for suspected carcinogen.” The Guardian. April 5, 2019.
4Hanson K, et al . “Sunscreen enhancement of UV-induced reactive oxygen species in the skin.” Free Radic Biol Med. 2006;41(8):1205–1206.
5Geraghty, LN. “Does Sunscreen Save Your Skin – Or Damage It?” NBCNews.com. Accessed July 3, 2017.
6Pfotenhauer K, et al. “Widespread vitamin D deficiency likely due to sunscreen use, increase of chronic diseases.” J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2017;(117):301-305.
7Sizar O, et al. “Vitamin D deficiency.” StatPearls Publishing. April 28, 2020.
8Zhang Y, et al. “Vitamin D inhibits monocyte/macrophage proinflammatory cytokine production by targeting MAPK phosphatase-1.” J Immunol. 2012;188(5):2127-2135.