I've told you in the past that sunscreens can cause more harm than good. The chemicals used to make the lotions and oils leach into your skin and can cause all sorts of health problems, including cancer. But now there's evidence commercial sunscreens don't do what they're advertised to do.

The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) looked at over 400 peer-reviewed articles on sunscreens. What it found is shocking! According to their analysis, many of the most popular brands break down quickly in the sun. And others don't block the harmful UV rays.

The study revealed that sunscreens with the same sun protection factor (SPF) don't block ultraviolet rays with the efficiency. Their ratings ran the gamut from "excellent" to "poor." But SPF tells only half the story. SPF measures the sunscreen's ability to block ultraviolet B rays. It says nothing about the product's ability to block ultraviolet A rays. UVA can cause wrinkling and skin cancer. Furthermore, unlike UVB rays, you don't get an immediate mark (redness or burn) on your skin from UVA.

The organization created a political storm. The FDA is involved and says that a new regulation addressing UVA protection is "currently in its final clearance." They still have not yet released this regulation. However, the FDA stands by its previous assertion that "approved sunscreens are safe and effective when used as directed."

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That's just not true. Even conventional dermatologists know it's not. Just ask Hensin Tsao, the assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard University. He says, "Currently, there are no truly effective ways to measure the strength of UVA protection in sunscreens."

Some sunscreen manufacturers are trying to pull the wool over your eyes by labeling their products "broad spectrum." However, no federal guidelines regulate how sunscreens can use the term and what level of protection it indicates. Darrell Rigel is a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University. He says, "Anyone can put the words broad-spectrum on a bottle so there's no easy way for the consumer to understand the labeling."

Once again, the FDA is failing us. In this case, the FDA is allowing deliberate misinformation. This misinformation can increase your risk of cancer-causing solar radiation when you think that you're protected.

I've told you in the past that the stabilizers added to the sunscreens to keep them from breaking down might be carcinogens. Now we see that the products don't do what they're supposed to do.

Now you know why I'm not a fan of sunscreens. We were made to be outdoors and in the sun. But respect the sun. Don't bake or fry yourself. Limit exposure during high noon (10am-2pm) in the summer. Wear a hat to protect your most vulnerable areas (nose, face, and ears). I believe in everyday normal activity in the sun. I am routinely in my garden at any hour wearing only a hat and shorts. This is not "baking" in the sun. It is normal human exposure. Beach and snow exposure is not "normal." In these locations, make sure you protect yourself. In my next health alert, I'm going to show you an easy and natural way to do just that.

Ref: Newsweek June 28, 2007.
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