Does Using Sunscreen Increase Your Risk for Cancer?

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Does Sunscreen Increase Your Risk For Cancer?

Before you lather up with sunscreen for a long day outside you should look at what is actually in the bottle.  These lotions contain chemical mixtures that have been proven to block UVA & UVB radiation exposure and prevent sunburnThese chemical cocktails are now linked to serious health consequences including an increased risk of cancer.  Natural strategies allow us to optimize sun exposure without chemical toxins within sunscreen.

The sun provides our body with an essential stress through its UV radiation.  This UV radiation stress signals a molecule on the skin (7-dehydrocholesterol) to convert to the active form of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in the body.  Vitamin D3 synthesis depends upon UVB radiation which effectively penetrates only the epidermal (outer) layers of the skin (1).

vitamin d deficiency, Vitamin D Deficiency: Common Symptoms and Solutions

Vitamin D and Cancer Risk:

Vitamin D deficiency is a current epidemic in our society today affecting 90% of our world’s population.  According to Vitamin D expert Michael Holick, `We estimate that vitamin D is the most common medical condition in the world.`  It is clear that most people are not getting enough healthy sun exposure.  Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased risk of virtually every form of cancer including skin cancer, cardiovascular disease and autoimmunity (23).

Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer that has always been associated with excessive sun exposure.  However, many recent studies have shown that individuals wearing sunscreen had a higher likelihood of getting melanoma (4).  Additionally, melanoma patients with increased levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients.   Patients who already had melanoma and a lot of sun exposure were prone to a less aggressive tumor type (5).

Sunscreen is Loaded with Toxins:

Due to worries over excessive sun exposure many people choose to lather up with sunscreen.  In 2007 the FDA admitted that they “are not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation.  They have written that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun.”

Up to 30% of the sunscreens on the market contain a form of Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) that may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. (6) The industry uses retinyl palmitate in its formulas because it is antioxidant that enhances skin health.  Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin A can cause excessive skin growth (hyperplasia) and that sunlight can damage the anti-oxidant and cause it to form harsh free radicals that damage DNA. (7)

Other Toxins Found in Common Sunscreens:

Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)                   Cinnamates

PABA esters                      Salicylates                             Digalloyl trioleate

Menthyl anthranilate            Avobenzone                      Octocyrlene



Industrial Toxins are Estrogenic:

All of these ingredients are highly toxic to our skin and bodies. They produce rampant amounts of free radicals that create an excess of oxidative stress. (8)  Oxidative stress is a potent carcinogen that causes genetic mutations.  These chemicals are highly estrogenic in that they mimic the effects of estrogen within our body and cause hormonal disruptions that increase cancer cell formation.

Natural sun screen protection comes from tropical oils such as coconut, eucalyptus, jojoba, & shea butter. Zinc oxide when applied appropriately is a powerful protectant from the damaging effects of too much sun.

It is always advisable to wear hats and other clothing if you know you are going to spend an excessive time in the sun.  Apply aloe vera and/or coconut oil on any areas that are overexposed to help ease the pain and nourish the skin.  Both of these sources support the skin microflora and harmonize the healing process.

Additionally, the best natural, non-toxic sunscreens that I have found are the Mercola brand.  Check out the following:

Mercola SPF 30        Mercola SPF 15      Natural Tanning Oil


Tips For Healthy Sun Exposure:

The ideal amount of sun exposure should produce somewhere in the range of 10,000 – 20,000 IU of vitamin D3.  This depends upon the amount of body parts exposed, the strength or angle of the sun and the color of the individual’s skin.

This is the approximate amount of time each individual skin type needs of sun exposure to get the appropriate 10,000 – 20,000 IU considering that at least 60% of the body is exposed to sunlight.  This would be equivalent to intentionally sun bathing.  They should get this amount at least three times weekly in order to fully optimize vitamin D3 levels.

1. Light skin = 15-20 minutes daily
Medium Skin = 25-30 minutes daily
Dark Skin = 40-45 minutes daily

2.Use coconut oil, aloe vera and/or green tea extract as a moisturizer before and after sun exposure for added anti-oxidant protection

3.  If adequate sunlight is not available or attainable than supplement with 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per 25 lbs of body weight daily.  I typically use dosages of 5,000-10,000 IU of vitamin D3 with 90-180 mcg of vitamin K2 to get levels up high quickly and then lower to the standard 1,000 per 25lbs of body weight dosage.

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Holick MF, Chen TC, Lu Z, Sauter E. Vitamin D and skin physiology: a D-lightful story. J Bone Miner Res. 2007 Dec;22 Suppl 2:V28-33. PMID: 18290718
2. Michael F. Holick. Vitamin D Deficiency. N Engl J Med 2007; 357:266-281
3. Holick MF. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1678S-88S. PMID: 15585788
4. Planta MB. Sunscreen and melanoma: is our prevention message correct? J Am Board Fam Med. 2011 Nov-Dec;24(6):735-9. PMID: 22086817
5. Berwick M, Armstrong BK, Ben-Porat L, Fine J, Kricker A, Eberle C, Barnhill R. Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Feb 2;97(3):195-9. PMID: 15687362
6. Hong Y, Manoharan I, Suryawanshi A, Majumdar T, Angus-Hill ML, Koni PA, Manicassamy B, Mellor AL, Munn DH, Manicassamy S. β-catenin promotes regulatory T-cell responses in tumors by inducing vitamin A metabolism in dendritic cells. Cancer Res. 2015 Feb 15;75(4):656-65. PMID: 25568183
7. Hossy BH, da Costa Leitão AA, Luz FB, dos Santos EP, Allodi S, de Pádula M, de Oliveira Miguel NC. Effects of a sunscreen formulation on albino hairless mice: a morphological approach. Arch Dermatol Res. 2013 Aug;305(6):535-44. PMID: 23595354
8. Núñez Sellés AJ, Villa DG, Rastrelli L. Mango Polyphenols and Its Protective Effects on Diseases Associated to Oxidative Stress. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2015 Feb 5. PMID: 25658384

skin, Skin Autophagy: 10 Strategies to Rejuvenate Your Skin

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Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best-selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.”


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