Stocking up and liberally applying sunscreen to help protect your kids from the summer sun?
Safeguarding your children from damaging sun rays is likely not doing much good, despite using top brand sunscreens marked “SPF 50+” or higher. Making sunscreen selection confusing is a questionable seal of approval, an unclear SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating system, and added chemicals which pose greater health risks than if skin were to experience limited, natural exposure to the sun.
The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) offers the use of its business logo/seal of approval to numerous sunscreen products. They require a $10,000 donation for “Corporate Council” approval, minimum sunscreen of SPF 15 and proof of basic testing results (skin reaction, sweat and water resistance factors, SPF, if advertising these claims).
The SPF rating system has remained unclear for years. As of 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet issued mandatory standards that can protect consumers. Science has never proven that using sunscreens protects against sun-caused skin cancers. Science does propose that using sunscreen reduces the chance of getting one of three kinds of skin cancer. Melanoma is not one of them, yet it is the deadliest and most common form of skin cancer.
Consumers are unaware of the multiple kinds of skin damage caused by overexposure to the sun. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2009, sunscreens on the market provide protection against the UVB rays that cause sunburns, but little to no protection against the UVA rays which promote skin aging and skin cancer.
Many of the sunscreens that are specifically formulated for use on children and babies make claims such as “Natural”, “Gentle”, or “Mild As Water”. Yet these actually contain ingredients known to be dangerous and toxic to adults as well as children. Some of the ingredients listed are as follows: butylated hydroxytoluene, oxybenzone, phenoxyethanol, propyl paraben & silica.
There has been a great deal of research on the use of BHT. It is used in pharmaceuticals, food additives, cosmetics and jet fuel to name a few. BHT is suspected of causing immunotoxicity, respiratory toxicity, causing skin or sense organ toxicity as well as possibly causing cancer.
Another ingredient widely used in sunblock is possibly a hormone disrupter. It is of concern due to the high levels of this compound found in human blood and urine indicating a high rate of absorption. The photomutagenic properties of these compounds might be a contributing factor to the increased melanoma incidence that has been found in sunscreen users.
This ingredient is suspected of causing developmental toxicity and reproductive toxicity.
This compound is suspected of causing skin or sense organ toxicity. An additional concern is that chronic exposure to paraben compounds with estrogenic activity may contribute to breast cancer.
This ingredient has been linked to gastrointestinal or liver toxicity, kidney toxicity and respiratory toxicity.
Until the FDA approves a standardized system, it is best for consumers to read the ingredients in sunscreen. Zinc oxide, mexoryl, avobenzone and titanium dioxide are effective ingredients that help protect against harmful UVA rays. Parents of infants 6 months and under should heed warnings that sunblock should be used for this age group. Pediatricians make the recommendation that it is best to simply keep baby out of the sun.