Does sunscreen really “cause cancer”?

In today’s world, we’re being warned pretty much everyday that something we use can cause or prevent cancer – and it all gets very muddled up when you don’t really know what to believe. Today, I’ll be looking at an article that talked to several experts in the field about an ever-growing concern: Do sunscreens cause cancer?

The first thing to address is what we’ve discussed in an earlier blog: the difference between organic and inorganic UV filters in sunscreen. To put it simply, organic filters absorb rays while inorganic filters block them. In addition, inorganic filters are more photostable and less photoallergic than organic filters. Let’s break down why people are concerned on both fronts:

Organic filters

Claim: Organic filters in sunscreens can disrupt your hormones.

Explanation: Oxybenzone is the most controversial ingredient in organic filters due to possible antiandrogenic and estrogenic effects.

Consensus: It would take 300 years of applying sunscreen daily to get to the level of oxybenzone exposure that we fear would cause negative effects on our hormones. For us to draw a conclusive concern, more sensitive studies are needed to determine if this is a risk.

Inorganic filters

Claim: Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in inorganic filters are metal oxides that penetrate our skin with toxicities. Inhaling these oxides pose higher risks.

Explanation: The main concern with these ingredients is that they have the potential to form free radicals. Worries around the risk of lung cancer posed to factory workers inhaling these metal oxides prompted further studies into the matter.

Consensus: Scientific studies have shown that the absorption of these oxides into the skin caused no damage to their cells, and studies on the inhalation of the oxides came to the conclusion that such exposure was unlikely to pose substantial health risks or toxicity.

After taking all this in, you will notice that many of these claims have been overestimated and exaggerated, with scientific evidence to date countering them. However, over here at Likewise Skincare, we know these concerns will still linger with consumers and that all studies are not entirely conclusive. That’s why we’re working on developing a chemical-free moisturizing sunscreen, as our current line does contain zinc. These formulations take time though, so give us a few years and hopefully then you’ll be able to use a sunscreen that’s 100% chemical free!

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