Dr. Reese’s Bits and Pieces
June 2018 Newsletter
This month summer officially arrives and school is officially over! Now it’s time to get outside and enjoy the weather. Now is the season of sunscreen.
For many reasons, I am not a fan of conventional sunscreens. It has never made any sense to me to slather on a chemical cocktail all over my skin and then go bake it in the sun. If you want to speed up a chemical reaction in the lab, you simply add heat. Doing this chemistry experiment on purpose seems like a bad idea.
Also, it gives you a false sense of security that you are now impervious to the damage from excess sun exposure. The worst sunburns I’ve seen over the years are on people who missed a spot on their skin while applying sunscreen. Unfortunately, they only found out about this unprotected spot after the day of “fun in the sun” was over and the painful burn showed up.
Chemical sunscreens are only 24% effective in preventing moles and actinic keratosis (AK) which can turn into skin cancer. That means it fails 76% of the time. Very fair skin people get the most benefit from using sunscreen to prevent moles and AK’s.
Killing our Reefs
Avoid shielding yourself from the sun's rays by slathering on chemical sunscreens, many of which have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer, as noted by clinical laboratory scientist Elizabeth Plourde, Ph.D.,.. Sunscreens have also been implicated in the destruction of corals and other sea life.
Researchers estimate sunscreen-wearing beachgoers introduce as much as 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen into the world's oceans each year. As reported by Cape Gazette:
"'Sunscreen exposure strongly influences the development, growth and survivorship of the horseshoe crab egg and larvae,' [Dixon] concluded …
The chemical found in Hawaiian Tropic used in Dixson's study is oxybenzone, which has been found to alter the DNA of coral, increase susceptibility to coral bleaching and disrupt the endocrine systems of marine animals.
Research has found the chemical impacts aquatic life at a concentration of 62 parts per trillion — the equivalent of one drop of water in about six Olympic-size pools, Dixson said."
While some sunscreen manufacturers have switched from oxybenzone to avobenzone, researchers like Dixon note no studies have been done to confirm whether avobenzone is actually a safer choice. Chances are, it's not.
Disturbingly, recent research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found 96 percent of the U.S. population has oxybenzone in their bodies, and this chemical is a known endocrine disruptor linked to reduced sperm count in men and endometriosis in women.
Disturbingly, at least nine of the sunscreen ingredients the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved are known endocrine disruptors.
Aside from oxybenzone — which is found in 70 percent of sunscreens — other commonly used chemicals that can enter your bloodstream and can cause toxic side effects, including hormone disruption.
Many sunscreens also contain vitamin A and/or its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, which have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer by increasing the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread.
Beware of Nanoparticles
Spray-on sunscreens pose an additional hazard by releasing toxic particles into the air. The FDA has previously expressed concern that inhaling these products may be risky, especially to children, and has warned parents to avoid spray-on sunscreens.
The two agents of greatest concern are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as these are the two most often used in spray-on sunscreen products. These two minerals are the safest topical sunscreen agents around but inhaling them is a whole different story.
Most studies to date have shown that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe and unlikely to penetrate your skin when applied topically, as long as they are not nanosized. (my emphasis added-CR)
But when these minerals are inhaled, they have been shown to irritate lung tissues and potentially lead to serious health problems,and the finer the particles, the worse their effects appear to be.The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide as a "possible carcinogen" when inhaled in high doses.(https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/04/26/hazardous-chemicals-in-sunscreens.aspx)
The best protection from a sunburn is a sun tan. Get it slowly over time so you don’t burn your skin. This also gives you the benefits of producing more vitamin D which helps protect you from 30 different types of cancer. If you must be in the sun for long periods, use hats, long sleeves and pants to protect your skin. For a day at the beach, physical blocks like zinc oxide or titanium oxide are your safest bets.
Sadly, my superstar office manager Sarah is moving back to Florida to be around her family and aging parents. She bravely survived 3 winters here and learned to drive on snow like a pro. She wanted me to let you know she will miss all of you, the beautiful Colorado landscape and great summers! We will soon have a new person at the front desk but she will never truly replace our Sarah. Best of luck in your new adventures and know that you will be missed! For the rest of us:
Get outside and enjoy this Colorado Summer!