I am honored to be a friend of Ken Cook who is the president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). I have been an admirer of their work for many years and I am delighted to see they are coming into the mainstream. This was the organization that conducted the seminal study about five years ago that showed that children born in America were receiving up to 287 chemicals in the placenta throughout pregnancy.
Now, The Environmental Working Group has come out with its new Sunscreen Guide. Of note, they evaluated over 500 sunscreens and could only recommend 39 of these (8% of the total).
There were several reasons they recommended so few of the hundreds of sunscreens that are available:
1) They found that there were a large number of exaggerated SPF claims over 50. High SPF products often give consumers a sense of safety in prolonged sun exposure. These high SPF products also generally do not block UVA radiation. UVA radiation is associated with skin cancer and particularly the very dangerous type called melanoma.
2) EWG also evaluated hazardous ingredients very closely. Specifically they looked at new data from the government that links vitamin A in sunscreens to the accelerated development of skin tumors and lesions. The particular type of vitamin A in sunscreens that is being investigated is called retinyl palmitate.
3) EWG also removed from its list, products containing oxybenzone because it is a known hormone disrupting compound and is found in about 60% of the sunscreens they analyzed. This chemical enters the bloodstream and has been found in the bodies of about 97% of Americans tested.
EWG GREEN RATINGS
The 39 beach and sports products that earned EWG's "Green" rating for safety and efficacy all contained the minerals zinc or titanium. You can jump right to them by clicking here
EWG also goes on to expose 8 surprising truths about sunscreens:
1) There is no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent cancer.
2) There's some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people. As I noted above this is because they do not protect from UVA rays.
3) There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they are better.
4) Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body's vitamin D levels. My readers certainly know about this!
5) This common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer
6) There are skin damaging byproducts of sunscreen, including the creation of free radicals
7) Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors! EWG recommends mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile amongst today's choices.
8) Europe's better sunscreens. This is because in Europe, sunscreen makers can choose from among 27 chemicals for their formulations versus only 17 in the US.
9) This is the 33rd summer in a row without final US sunscreen safety regulations.
I am very pleased that the EWG has released these recommendations, and I encourage you to follow them to provide for the safety of your family and yourself. Click here to go right to the brands they recommend.
Remember a few minutes in the sun before your sunblock (depending on your skin type) can give you vitamin D all summer.