Most people now understand the importance of using sunscreens, especially to prevent serious forms of skin cancer like melanoma. Use of sunscreens have increased in recent years – but so has incidents of skin cancer. This may seem confusing until the production issues in the sunscreen industry are better understood: what most people do not realize is that in the United States, lax guidelines and regulations in regards to ingredients and strengths of sunscreen have made them less effective than many people perceive them to be and generally speaking, they offer less protection from UVA and UVB rays than is popularly believed. There are also several ingredient in sunscreens that should be avoided due to their various detrimental health effects. Below are five ingredients to be aware of when you are purchasing sunscreen.
Sunscreen with Retinol
Retinol, or Vitamin A, is a common ingredient in many sunscreens, but it can actually increase your chances of developing tumors of skin that has been exposed to the sun. This is especially concerning to dermatologists and members of the medical community, since incidence of melanoma has been rising by about 2% annually the past several years.
Sunscreens with SPF above 50
Many people think that they are getting extra protection from these products, but in fact SPF’s at this level only protect against UVB rays and not against UVA, which can also cause cancer. It can also give people a false sense of security that is not borne out by the reality of these products.
Sunscreens with Oxybenzone
This chemical is also a common ingredient in sunscreens, but it is readily absorbed by the skin and enters the bloodstream. It is known as an estrogen mimicker and can lead to problems with the reproductive and hormonal systems over the long term.
Sunscreens Sold as Powders, Sprays or Towelettes
When sunscreen is applied in these forms, it is hard to tell just how much you are applying, which can leave you unprotected if the amount you put on is inadequate. There is also the possibility of inhaling these products while applying them and this is not healthy, either.
Sunscreen Combined with Insect Repellant
Insecticides in combination with sunscreens can be effective, but also harmful to your long-term health. They also can proved irritating to the skin, since sunscreen must be applied regularly in order to give you the UVA/UVB protection that you need.
In order to reduce the risk of skin cancer, do use sunscreen (without the ingredients listed above) but also realize that it is your third line of defense. To truly be safe, stay in the shade or indoors between late morning and mid-afternoon when the sunlight is strongest and cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long trousers to truly protect yourself.
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