Debunking 3 Sunscreen Myths – PART TWO

Naples Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Kent Hasen, continues his discussion of common sunscreen myths.

Chemicals in Sunscreen Interfere with Hormones and Cause Cancer

FALSE! Most people’s concern regarding sunscreen stems from two ingredients: oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.  Oxybenzone is a synthetic estrogen first approved by the FDA in 1978 and present in sunscreen since the early 1980s.  In a 2001 study, rats fed over 1500 mg of oxybenzone showed an increase in uterine weight.  However, this is an astronomically high oxybenzone dose!  Furthermore, rat studies do not always correlate to human studies, and no studies have shown this association in humans.

It has been shown that oxybenzone does NOT accumulate in the body, and exhaustive review by the FDA has shown NO adverse effects in humans. In fact, oxybenzone is FDA approved for use by people 6 months of age and older.

The second ingredient of concern, retinyl palmitate actually helps PROTECT the skin from premature aging.  This ingredient is a form of Vitamin A, which is found naturally in the skin, and has been used for years to actually PREVENT skin cancer.  Studies had previously found that when this ingredient is exposed to UV radiation, harmful substances can develop which could lead to cancer.  However, this study did not consider that our body has chemicals called antioxidants to prevent the formation of these harmful substances.  There have been NO human studies to show this chemical causes skin cancer, and, in fact, other forms of vitamin A (retinoids) can PREVENT skin cancer!

For patients who are still worried about the chemicals present in sunscreen, we recommend “physical sunscreens”.  These products are often referred to as sunblocks because they physically block the sun without absorbing into the skin.

I suggest all patients use sunscreen on a daily basis for health and cosmetic reasons.  Multiple studies have proven sunscreen to be not only safe, but VITAL, for preventing skin cancer.  UV radiation from the sun leads to premature aging, hyperpigmentation, decreases the skin’s ability to heal, and, of course, skin cancer.  Sunscreen is your best defense against this damage!

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