Project Alicia : Sunscreen Causes Cancer Part 2

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sunscreen Causes Cancer Part 2

After many emails regarding my first post about the Marie Claire study, I decided I should do an update.

Skincare is not something to take lightly, especially when you are plagued with fair skin. First and foremost, make sure to get checked out annually. You can find the ABCs of moles here in a previous post.

What I have learned since Sunscreen Causes Cancer (part 1) is that there are several ingredients that they are concerned about, not just vitamin A.

The following ingredients are all found on the AVOID list:
(You can find explanations here or here.)

vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) found in 41% of sunscreens is photocarcinogenic, causing accelerated skin damage and elevated skin cancer risk when applied to skin exposed to sunlight.

Oxybenzone (a derivative of benzophenone) found in 60% of sunscreens is a hormone distrupting compound that penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream.

Homosalate, Octy-methoxycinnamate
(octinoxate), & Parabens also have estrogenic properties.

Padimate-O and Parsol 1789


Sprays or Powders "cloud the air with tiny particles of sunscreen that may not be safe to breathe."

Nothing to worry about, right? Geesh. How is one suppose to find a sunscreen minus these ingredients? I've looked. They are not in any drugstores.

And to make matters worse, "the Enviromental Working Group (EWG) just published an in-depth analysis of the safety and effectiveness of more than 700 name-brand sunscreens." Of the more than 700 sunscreens analyzed, the EWG found 84% of them were insufficent or unsafe.

I was deeply disturbed to find that neutrogena was not only NOT recommended, but was on the AVOID list. That is the brand that has always been recommended by my dermatologist.

So I phoned them. I have yet to hear back, so I phoned several others in town. Only one returned my phone call and told me (via the receptionist) that he had heard nothing of this and unless it is printed in a medical journal it means nothing of importance. Hmm..

Well, it wasn't in ladies' home journal as he implied and does the EWG not count?

Uyen of Ramble Road Ramblings asked her SIL who is a dermatologist and she said. "I wouldn't worry about it. Like the article says, there's no definitive proof of this whereas there is lots of definitive proof on the benefits of sunscreen. I think people like to look for excuses to not wear sunscreen! So bottom line, keep slathering it on!!"

These are the ingredients to LOOK FOR:


Titanium dioxide

Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX

Creams with Broad-spectrum protection
(both UVA and UVB coverage), water-resistant for beach, pool & exercise, SPF 30+ for beach & pool

Make sure to check out the EWG's 2010 Sunscreen Guide . You can look at a list of recommended sunscreens or type in your specific sunscreen to see how it ranks. Most of the preferred ones on their list are not recognizable names for me and I'm not sure where they can be found yet.

Not sure if this has answered any questions for anyone, but it's what I do when I feel helpless- read! The internet is a bit of a double edged sword. It has amazing amounts of information that can be wonderful and can also make ya search aimlessly in circles to no avail until you have an ulcer.

I've decided to use up the neutrogena I have while I search for sunscreens on the EWG's recommended list that have the ingredients to look for. At least that's the current game plan.

Pretty much we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. We are going to get cancer regardless according to the study unless we use the right sunscreens and it appears that no one really knows what that is.

I'm going to continue to use rash guards for the kiddos. Use a hat or umbrella at the pool if ya can. My public pool has really large umbrellas, but are hard to come by. And I will continue to be vigilant with my sunscreen. I find that when I don't use it my melasma and freckles tend to come out, so it is definitely doing something. Hopefully it is doing more good than bad in the long run.

That's all I have for now. I welcome opinions and any other info that I may have missed.

Thanks to all who have sent emails and voiced their concerns. It's nice to know I'm not alone.


  1. One of the sunscreens on the recommended list (according to the link I gave on your last post) is California Babies. Its available in Target (here anyway). The down fall- its like $20 for a not very big tube. No- you cant put a price on health, but I cant go broke trying to keep my kids in sunscreen when we live in CA either! ugh.

  2. yikes. I use neutrogena for Cohen because it's one he's not allergic to. It's for extra sensitive skin. But now I'm giving him cancer. :/ Kinda like vaccines if you think about it. No proof that they are 100% safe, yet it's the best way to protect children from potentially deadly illnesses. Damned if you do..... In response to Megan- I use a lot of California Baby products, but they are SO expensive!!!

  3. I bought ViveSana sunscreen from Jasmere a while back and it works pretty well. It's REALLY thick, but spreads pretty well.

    It's something to check out!

  4. Loving Naturals is the brand I use on my kids. I personally use Neutrogena too. But living in Arizona, it's better to use SOMETHING than nothing.

  5. I did not even know that sunscreen with those ingredients can cause cancer. If it weren't for this blog entry of yours, I would still have been in the dark.

  6. My sister is a rep for a high~end skincare/therapy line and her consensus from all her training's way more RISKY to NOT wear sunscreen...I agree! I read an article recently that people born before 1960 are LESS likely to get skin cancer...NOT because of sunscreen use...BUT...because they're more likely to cover up..or get out of the sun. Hmmm...I think common sense and prevention is always the best bet no?

    Thanks for a really comprehensive post! You're awesome :)

  7. Lovely. I get so many dirty-looking freckles WITH sunscreen on, it's hard to justify putting anything on.

  8. It's so frustrating not to have definitive answers. Thanks for trying to get some research. I'll be seeing my dermo in a few weeks and I'm going to ask him about it.

  9. Argh! It's so frustrating trying to keep up with what is the latest thing out to kill me. Totally going to check out the list. Thank you for posting it!

  10. Thanks for the info, who knew choosing sunscreen could be such a big deal. I am going to look at all of my labels!

  11. It is so frustrating that something we think is protecting us may be hurting us. I'm going to the EWG's recommended list now. Thanks for the info.

  12. Wow thanks for sharing that. I know sun can cause cancer (I've had my share of cancerous moles removed, and I'm only 24), but never heard about sunscreen + cancer. Something to think about for sure!

  13. Wow, I didn't know this about the sunscreen! Thank you it is good to know for myself. I use California Baby products on both my boys because everything is all natural and the stuff works great. I should just use in on myself!

  14. Hey! This has been fascinating reading and I'm going to definitely check up on those sunscreen ingredients. We have ones that are recommended by Sunsafe NZ and like sheep, we all just do what we've been told. However, I had to break away from the flock because of my daughter who has super sensitive skin.. and have gone with a Natural Mineral thing. BUT, more info reading is important - knowledge is power and all that jazz.
    Thanks for all the links!

  15. Wow. That was an investigative journalism piece if I ever saw one. You go on with yourself, girlfriend... awesome post... thank you!

  16. Living in Hawaii we use tons of sunscreen, and I always refer to EWG to find the safer ones!

  17. great post Lish! Since we don't know what's safe and what's not, I'm still slathering on the sunscreen (maybe even overdoing it a bit). Thanks for all of your hard work in trying to get to the bottom of this.