Sunscreen Dangers Continue to be Exposed

February 3, 2020 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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 Sunscreen Dangers Continue to be Exposed
You might wonder why I have written an article about sunscreen use in the middle of winter. In recent days, media outlets have featured breaking health news on the topic of sunscreen use which has generated a lot of discussion and questions. As you go about planning your next trip to some place warm or eagerly wait for warmer temps, keep in mind that skin protection is something to plan for. Now is a great time to fortify your skin even in the cold days of winter.

JAMA Study - Sunscreen Chemicals Found in Bloodstream

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) January 21, 2020 publication featured a study on sunscreen ingredients. It is a follow-up trial in response to another JAMA study in 2019. The buzz on the topic refers to study findings that demonstrated that sunscreen chemicals were found in the blood stream of those who used the product after just one application.

The earlier 2019 study found that test subjects who used sunscreen had four active ingredients in their blood stream. The 2020 study expanded on the original findings. In this randomized clinical trial, 48 healthy adults applied one of four sunscreen products to 75 percent of their body surface area in one or more applications as instructed during a 4-day exposure period.

Blood levels were measured for six active ingredients used in sunscreen over the course of the 21-day study. Chemicals tested were oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate, and avobenzone.

Results showed that after one application, all six ingredients were found in the blood stream of participants the same day. Tests revealed that all six compounds were above the recommended chemical threshold proposed by the FDA. The proposed threshold limit is 0.5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). A nanogram is one billionth of a gram. Blood test results of the various compounds ranged from 3.3 ng/mL to 258.1 ng/mL. Four different sunscreens formulations were used as lotion, aerosol spray, non-aerosol spray, or pump spray.

The concluding statement of the January 2020 JAMA study stated, “These findings do not indicate that individuals should refrain from the use of sunscreen.”

This study raises concerns. Presence of something doesn’t always mean causation, but it should raise questions and require a look at other facts.

Suncreens Contain Endocrine Disrupting Compounds

Adverse environmental and oceanic changes have occurred because of sunscreen residues in the water. Sunscreens contribute to the global chemical soup concerns and are recognized endocrine disrupting compounds(EDCs). Sunscreen chemicals do end up in the blood stream, which raises concerns. EDCs are linked with a myriad of health challenges including diabetes, obesity, thyroid, cancers, and precocious puberty. While little thought is often given after sunscreen has been applied on the body, you have to ask, where is your sunscreen ending up after it has been absorbed in your blood stream?

Since the 2019 JAMA article, there have been over 1000 research articles published in the National Library of Medicine on the topic of sunscreen, evaluating many different concerns for human and global health. JAMA and the media however cite the need to keep using sunscreen for your protection. No matter your choice and use of product, it is important to learn about the concerns with sunscreen use and to understand skin health a little more.

Skin Health

Your skin is the main physical barrier between your body and the environment. On the surface and within the layers of skin are many different things. Proteins, amino acids, fats, mitochondria, nerves, sweat glands, immune cells, blood vessels, the skin microbiome, and connective tissues, etc. are part of this barrier. Every day, this barrier manages challenges with things like climate, temperature, UV radiation, germs, and chemicals founds in personal care products, laundry products, make-up, cigarettes, heavy metals, tap water in the shower, and more. These exposures create responses within the skin and systemically with free radical production, oxidative stress and inflammation.

These challenges that the skin faces trigger a cascade of interactions that require nutrients stored in your skin and body. Essential compounds like the nutrients below help the skin maintain a healthy glow, support its barrier and manage the substances it encounters, like UV radiation.

Nutrition for Skin

Nutrients used by the skin include vitamins A, C, and E, glutathione, selenium, carotenes, astaxanthin, B vitamins, sulfur, zinc, copper, lysine, collagen peptides, and essential fatty acids such as EPA, DHA, GLA, and squalene, etc. Other antioxidants aid in skin protection from free radical hits. These include grape seed extract, resveratrol, green tea extract, and fisetin. The skin is a natural source of vitamin D via reactions induced by UVB radiation from the sun.

Sun exposure provides many health benefits to the human body, but it can be a stressor in excess. As we see with the JAMA studies, concerns are raised with sunscreen chemicals entering the blood stream. Similar to other parts of the body, deficit of stored nutrients in the skin, allow free radical/oxidative stress to occur and tissue breakdown ensues. Nutrient reserves are essential in managing this. Many of the same nutrients listed above are used to help your body detoxify chemical exposures.

If you don’t consume enough nutrient-dense foods required to maintain nutrient reserves, and have an increased chemical exposure from things like sunscreens, your system is likely to tip the balance from health to dis-ease. Do sunscreens that end up in the blood pose a threatening concern? If it affects the oceanic ecosystem, what about your own ecosystem? Are your nutritional reserves adequate before you embrace the sun and its warmth?

You can learn more about skin health and sunscreens in the article Sunscreen and Vaccine Adjuvants: As Harmless as You Are Led to Believe? This article delves deeper into immune tolerance and toxin exposure.

Other articles of interest may include:

Sun Protection – What Makes Sense? 

Hair Loss and Skin Wrinkles Reflect Mitochondrial Aging 

Top Nutrients for Healthy, Glowing Skin 

5 Nutrients that Protect Your Skin 

Get Glowing Skin with Green Tea Extract 

Other Health Resources

Health Topics: Antioxidants for Skin and Collagen 

Dry, Flaky Skin? Nourish from With 

Rosacea – Linked with Gut, Nerve and Immune Dysfunction

Squalene: The Ideal Wintertime Supplement 

Health Topics: Detoxification

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