Everybody's Free to Wear a Better Sunscreen
I am quite melanin-challenged (red hair, pale skin, freckles, etc.). I also spend a lot of time out in the sun gardening, hiking, biking or skiing so I use my fair share of sunscreen. Frankly, I haven't spent a lot of time worrying about sunscreen because I very rarely get a sunburn. It turns out that was a mistake. Thanks to the Environmental Working Group there is a report that compares the relative safety and effectiveness of sunscreens.
Many, many years ago I once tried to 'lay out' to get a tan. Fortunately, I got bored after a few minutes and went to do something else. At best I would have been covered in freckles and at worst I would have had a nasty sunburn. But, I still spend a lot of time outdoors and often in the mountains. I've been using sunscreen for years, assuming that I would avoid skin cancer. I've discovered that there is much more to sunscreen than the SPF rating.
Here are nine surprising factoids from the EWG 2011 Sunscreen Report:
- There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.
- There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.
- There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they’re better.
- Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels.
- The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.
- Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen.
- Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.
- Europe has better sunscreens.
- This is 34th summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations.
Now, I'm off to buy a new tube of sunscreen from the 'Top-Rated Beach & Sport' list and retire the questionable stuff I've been using. Then I'm headed back into the beautiful, if high-UV exposure, mountain environment that I love.