Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Being safer in the sun

In my ongoing efforts to live as healthily as possible, I just threw out at least $100 worth of sunscreens in my drawer -- after writing an article for Examiner on the latest report by the Environmental Working Group on the safest sunscreens to use.

Turns out, there are two really bad ingredients in the majority of sunscreen products on the market: retinyl palmitate (a vitamin A compound) and oxybenzone. How bad are they? Well, both are suspected carcinogens.

... Hmmm. So, maybe this explains the explosion of skin cancer cases during the years in which we've been using these products that supposedly protect us? That may not be so crazy a theory, given the fact that the good old FDA has failed -- since 1978 -- to come up regulations for sunscreens. Says the EWG site:

Until the agency formally issues its rule, companies are not required to verify that their sunscreens work, including testing for SPF levels, checking waterproof claims or providing UVA protection. Nearly 1 in 8 sunscreens does not block UVA rays.

So, I took a look at the labels for all of the bottles of lotions and sprays that I have collected in the past couple of years. And guess what? Nearly every single one contained either -- or both -- of these nasty chemicals. This included inexpensive brands such as my go-to No Ad sunblock lotion, major brands including Coppertone Oil Free for Faces and Banana Boat Tear-Free Baby lotion, as well as supposedly quality products such as Neutrogena Age Shield Face sunblock.

So, down the drain they went, with the bottles destined for the recycling bin. And tomorrow, I'll be heading to the drugstore or health-food store on the hunt for the few products (only 8 percent of the 500 or so products on the market!) that are deemed the best beach and sport sunscreens by the EWG.

It's going to cost me ... but money is a much easier thing to pay with than my health!


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