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Is Your Sunscreen Making You Sick?

Is Your Sunscreen Making You Sick?
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There’s a good chance that it is. Here are some tips on avoiding nasty chemicals when you’re out in the sun (hint: the FDA won’t help you!).

It’s summertime, and lots of us are spending time outdoors. When protecting yourself with sunscreen, though, it’s important to remember that many products on the market contain dangerous chemicals. The good news is there are natural alternatives, including supplements, that can help protect you without poisoning you.  Just don’t ask the FDA for more information about these healthier options; they have banned information about how cheap, safe, and effective natural medicines can protect you from the sun.

Research has shown that 96% of the US population has oxybenzone, an endocrine disruptor, in their bodies. This chemical disrupts sperm function in men and causes endometriosis (a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus) in women. The main source of exposure to this chemical? Sunscreen. Octinoxate, another chemical used in sunscreens, has been shown to cause reproductive, thyroid, and behavioral alterations in animal studies; homosalate, another sunscreen chemical, disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. Some sunscreens, even when properly used, apparently cause severe burning on young children. Mineral sunscreens, such as zinx oxide or titanium dioxide, offer a better safety profile than chemical-based sunscreens—and are better for the environment, too.

There are also nutrients that can help protect against sunburn and skin damage. Astaxanthin, a carotenoid that causes the reddish color in salmon, trout, lobster, and shrimp, has been shown to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation; a placebo-controlled, double-blinded, randomized clinical trial showed similar effects for the carotenoids lycopene and lutein. Carotenoids are also overwhelmingly safe.

Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t want you to know about these natural alternatives. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently announced that the FDA sent warning letters to four companies selling skin supplements. The agency argues that claims regarding the supplements’ ability to protect the skin from UV (ultraviolet) rays and sunburn turn the products into unapproved drugs, since only FDA-approved products can claim to offer broad-spectrum UV protection. Basically, to the FDA, sunburn is a disease that only FDA-approved products can treat.

Soon the FDA will be saying that dehydration is a “disease” that can only be treated with special water that has been approved as a drug by the FDA, while gagging any discussion about the benefits of tap water or “unapproved” bottled water. Where will it end? It seems the agency will stop at nothing to protect the drug industry.

This dynamic is all-too-familiar: cheap, safe, and effective natural medicine is stymied by the federal government in favor of FDA-approved, toxic products made by pharmaceutical companies. Why? Because the FDA works for the pharmaceutical industry, and anything competing with Big Pharma’s products is targeted by the agency. We can harness the power of nature to prevent illness, but nobody knows about it because the government prevents the free flow of information about these products. Are we surprised that we are facing an epidemic of chronic disease?

Tell the FDA that you want to know how cheap, safe, and effective natural medicines can protect you from the sun—and other ailments.

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