Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wanna Sex Change? Try Sun Block!

It’s summer and I’m still getting used to the daily ritual of applying sunscreen. I use Derma Soleil Natural Sunblock, which is PABA-free. PABA, a UV protector, is also known to mess with DNA in human cells, leading to skin cancer. No irony here.

Derma Soleil works well in keeping the burn at bay, but I’ve got to wonder if it’s the best thing out there. After all, (big breath) Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Benzophenone-3, Octyl Saliclate, Octocrylene, etc. are in the lotion, and first rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce it, don’t trust it.
The problem with sun blocks, even ‘eco-friendly’ ones like Derma Soleil, is that they are chock full of chemicals that can irritate the skin and worse - carry hormone disrupters, particularly estrogen mimics. Now I’m all about guys getting in touch with their female side, but estrogen mimics in suntan lotion have been known to change the gender in male fish. Fish have enough problems. Their numbers are diminishing because of overfishing and the practice of bottom trawling which destroys ecosystems at the bottom of seas. They’re choking on plastic and carrying tumors due to pollution. The water that sustains them is getting warmer and more acidic thanks to increases in carbon dioxide in the environment. The last thing they need is a sex change they didn’t ask for!

And you think estrogen mimics are bad for fish? How about us humans? In women, they’ve been known to cause cancer. So the more you slather on the sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, and the higher the SPF rating the greater the chemical content, the likelier you will get skin cancer. Oy vey!

So what’s a summer-lov’n boy and girl to do?

According to The Ecologist and Ideal Bite, mineral based sun blocks that use titanium dioxide or zinc work as well as conventional blocks and have fewer toxins. The Ecologists provides a breakdown of what goes in your average sunscreen. Click here to read the nasty details.

Keep in mind that while sunscreen is designed to prevent UV radiation from causing havoc in you cells – it also prevents vital vitamin D from absorbing into your skin as well. We can’t win, can we? Certainly, the days of burnt to a crisp skin are over. That brown ‘healthy’ look is actually a sign of damaged skin that will come back to haunt you. Your older self may end up cursing premature aging skin and cancerous tumors.

The following are tips to enjoy the summer without hurting yourself and the planet:


JJW said...

Great post. I had no clue that some screens could disrupt hormones, spooky. I agree though, the best rule of thumb is usually to go with what has the least amount of chemicals.


Cheryl McNamara said...

From Michelle Parson:

here's another lots of mangoes, papayas, carrots, melon etc. in other words - red a yellow fruit and veggies - which contain carotenoids that provide a natural shield from UV's - at least that's what I've read, it think, in Prevention Magazine.