Vitamin D Newsletter


Dangers of Sunscreens

Anonymous writes:

Dr. Cannell: Should I use sunscreens or cosmetics that contain sunscreens?

Dr. Cannell replies:

Hundreds of people have asked me this question. It's important to remember that many cosmetics contain sunscreens. My short answer is: "If you are comfortable drinking sunscreens, then you should feel comfortable putting them on your skin." At least three studies have found that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your blood stream. As they circulate in your blood, they go to your internal organs—where they do whatever those chemicals may do there. Then they are excreted in your urine. If you drink them the same thing would happen. Sunblocks that have old style zinc or titanium oxide as their only active ingredients are not absorbed by the skin. Zinc oxide used to be a gooey paste, now it is emulsified, and may, or may not, be absorbed systemically. It blocks light, just like clothes. I remember a beach in France where a beautiful young woman had carefully applied the old gooey red zinc oxide to her body in the shape of a tiny red bikini. She couldn't sit down because the sand would stick to her. She was naked but you had to look twice (which I did) to see just how naked she was.

Furthermore, sunscreens facilitate the skin's absorption of pesticides. So, if you want pesticides to be readily absorbed through your skin, circulate in your blood, go to your internal organs, and be excreted in your urine, wear sunscreens. Or, you could take a swig of your Coppertone and chase it with a shot of Deepwoods Off.

Finally, if you think your sunscreen is preventing your skin from turning red just by blocking solar radiation, think again. Sunscreens inhibit an enzyme in your skin that makes nitric acid and one of the functions of nitric acid is to inflame your skin. The inflammation then signals your immune system  to start protecting your skin and tells you to get out of the sun. Sunscreens block nitric acid formation, the skin doesn't redden, the immune system isn't notified, you stay longer in the sun, your skin is damaged, and you increase your risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

I call this combination of events—drinking sunscreen and insecticides while blocking your immune system's ability to protect your skin—the "Gilchrest Phenomenon," named after the Chairwoman of Dermatology at Boston University who funds her department with grants from the sunscreen/cosmetic industry.

Page last edited: 07 November 2010