The sun, as pleasant as it is when it is shining, has harmful UVA and UVB rays that age the skin and may cause malignant skin cancer. Yet, use of sunscreens can be a double-edged sword. It can give people a false sense of security to stay in the sun longer, which increases the risk of cancer. Some active ingredients are readily absorbed and can disrupt hormones, and other ingredients may speed the development of skin cancer. Sunscreens also block the production of Vitamin D, which is essential to bone health and immunity as well as prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease. So how do you choose a sunscreen that is safe and effective? The Environmental Working Group www.ewg.org analyzed the data and rated sunscreens on both their safety and efficacy. Here are the highlights.
The most safe and effective sunscreens have broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and contain the least hazardous ingredients such as:
• Zinc or titanium dioxide, which are known as mineral sunscreens, have the best safety profile
• Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is another good option, but it’s sold in very few formulations.
• Avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection) is for those who don’t like mineral products
Avoid sunscreens with:
• Oxybenzone and 4 MBC since they are hormone disruptors, penetrate the skin and may be toxic over time in children
• Retinyl palmitate which may actually speed the development of skin cancer
To add further protections from the inside out, take a supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin and eat more kale, spinach and chard that contain these compounds that may protect against sun damage. Take at least 2,000 international units of Vitamin D and have your Vitamin D levels measured.
Have fun in the sun knowing you are protected and enjoy your summer.
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