Sunscreen Ingredients Linked to Skin Cancer

Retinyl palmitate and skin cancer

Retinyl palmitate is an ingredient composed of palmitic acid and retinol (Vitamin A). When exposed to UV light, retinol compounds break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause gene mutations, which is a precursor to cancer.

Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. FDA also raised a concern that extensive, daily skin application of vitamin A creams may build up in a pregnant woman’s body at high enough levels that may be toxic to the developing fetus.

This cream has been shown to increase the development of skin cancer lesions in mice during laboratory testing.  The FDA has been aware of this increased risk for several years but has done nothing to get the ingredient removed from sunscreens.

Hormone Disruptors in sunscreens

The most common ingredients in non-mineral sunscreen products are octisalate (found in 59 percent), oxybenzone (52 percent) and avobenzone (49 percent). Oxybenzone can trigger allergic reactions, is a potential hormone disrupter and penetrates the skin in relatively large amounts. Some experts caution that it should not be used on children.

A number of sunscreen chemicals are known to permeate the skin. Laboratory studies, tests on volunteers and human bio-monitoring research have detected these chemicals in the general population. In the United States, the widely used chemical oxybenzone (or benzophenone-3) has been detected in 96 percent of the population (Calafat 2008, Wolff 2007). A recent European study detected four common sunscreen chemicals in mothers’ milk, indicating potential for exposure to the developing fetus and newborns (Schlumpf 2008). Indications of human exposure underscore the need for the FDA and other regulatory agencies to carefully review the toxicity of widely used sunscreen ingredients.

Safe sun exposure protects you from skin cancers


Make your own natural sunscreen

Recipe from the video:  6T coconut oil, 2 T almond oil,  2 T zinc oxide (remove the  clumps), 3 tsp shea butter, and 2 tsp bees wax pellets. Melt all ingredients together in a double boiler, then blend with an emulsifying blender while still hot to thoroughly blend the zinc oxide into the oil.  Pour into jelly jar and allow to cool.

Recipe 1  sunscreen bars

Melt all ingredients except for the oils in a double boiler then stir in the oils.  Pour into a Silicone Mold and allow to cool.  Store the bars in a Ziploc bag. Rub the bars onto your skin for sun protection. These bars may melt if left in the sun.

Recipe 2

  • ½ Cup Almond Oil
  • ¼ Cup Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Shea Butter
  • ¼ Cup  Bees Wax
  • 2 T Zinc Oxide Powder

Combine all of the ingredients except for the zinc oxide in a glass jar with a lid. Put a few inches of water into a saucepan and place the jar in the water over medium heat. As the water heats up and the mixture begins to melt together. Stir occasionally until you have a creamy mixture.  At this point you can add in the zinc oxide powder. Stir until the zinc oxide in absorbed and then allow the mixture to cool.   Use just like you would use regular sunscreen. This particular mixture has an SPF value of about 15, but you can add more zinc oxide for added protection.  This may melt if left out in the hot sun but will solidify again.

Sun Burn Remedies

Aloe Vera Gel- look for a natural variety that does not contain additive or preservatives, or scrape the gel from the leaf of the plant and gently dab on the skin.

Baking soda- mix four tablespoons of baking soda wtih 3 cups of cool water. Soak a clean cloth and then lay over the sunburned area, or take a bath in baking soda and epson salts.

Skim milk- create a compress of skim milk and apply to your sunburn for half an hour every four hours until the pain subsides.

Vitamin E- open a vitamin E capsules and apply directly to the affected area.  Vitamin E Oil.

Make a paste using ground up oatmeal and water and gently apply to the skin.

Apple cider vinegar (such as raw unfiltered Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar– put into a spray bottle and lightly mist the skin. This may sting for a short while but it will balance the pH of the skin and help to heal it.

Additional Resources

Environmental Working Group Sunscreen Product Tool-rates sunscreens for protection and for harmful chemicals

 Dr Mercola on sunscreens and skin cancer

Using natural oils for sunscreen protection

Natural remedies for sunburn


 Sunology Natural Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

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