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Why Should I Care About My Sunscreen?

Why Use Mineral Sunscreen?

Health Concerns and Facts About Sun Exposure

The increasing occurrence of skin cancer in the USA is a major concern of physicians. New research shows that the active ingredients (toxic chemicals) in some sunscreens may contribute to genetic damage and skin cancer (The Scientist, Mar/Apr. 1999, page 7). Current advice on sun and skin care strongly recommends the heavy use of chemical sunscreens on the delicate skin of babies and young children, as well as adults. The consumer falsely believes a sunscreen forms an invisible protective barrier against harmful solar rays. In fact, the sunscreen chemicals can absorb the rays' energy, become energized, and chemically reactivate themselves, which can lead to chemical reaction in the skin that creates free radicals that cause DNA damage.

Dr. Marianne Berwick, an epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reported at a 1998 meeting that her analysis of 16 epidemiology studies suggested that the more sunscreen a person used the higher chance of developing skin cancer. Dr. Frank Garland of the University of California, believes the increased use of chemical sunscreens is the primary cause of the epidemic of skin cancer. Dr. Gordon Ainsleigh in California believes that the use of sunscreens causes more cancer deaths than it prevents. He estimated that the 17% increase in breast cancer observed between 1991 and 1992 may be the result of the pervasive use of sunscreens over the past decade. (Preventive Medicine, Vol. 22, Feb. 1993) Professor John Moan of the Norwegian Cancer Institute found the yearly increase in melanoma in Norway had increased 350% for men and 440% for women during the periods 1957-1984, when sunscreens were introduced.

Researchers encourage consumers to READ THE LABELS on suncare products. If the product contains any of the following chemical ingredients, use discretion before applying to your skin:

  • Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)
  • PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA,
  • p-aminobenzoic acid padimate O or Octyl dimethyl PABA
  • Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl, p-methoxycinnamate)
  • Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)
  • Avobenzone (butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane; Parsol 1789)
  • Digalloyl trioleate
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Propylene Glycol and Ethylene Glycol: Called a humectant in cosmetics, it is industrial antifreeze, and the major ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluid.
  • Material Data Sheets warn to avoid skin contact as it is systemic and can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage. If anti freeze is spilled on your garage floor and a dog or cat drinks one lick, it will kill them.

Chemical sunscreens contain 2-5% of chemical compounds. Benzophenone, and similar compounds, is one of the most powerful free radical generators known to man. It is used in industrial process as a free radical to initiate chemical reaction. When activated by ultra violet light, it doubles the bond to produce two free radical sights. The free radicals then initiate a chain reaction which can increase skin damage and increase skin cancer.

Worldwide, the greatest risk in melanoma has been in countries where sunscreens have been heavily promoted. Queensland, Australia, where the medical establishment has vigorously promoted the use of sunscreens has more evidence of melanoma per capita than any other place (Garland, Cedric F., et al American Journal of Public Health, April 1992). Drs. Cedric and Frank Garland of the University of California have pointed out that while sunscreens do prevent against sunburn there is no scientific proof they protect against basal cell carcinoma in humans.

In 1997, Europe, Canada, and Australia changed sunscreens to use only three specific sunscreen ingredients, avobenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the basis of sunscreens. All others were banned. 

Coral Safe encourages use of only pure suncare products made with all natural ingredients, or pure mineral sunscreens that act as reflective sun blocks such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which provide a physical barrier to the sun, does not irritate skin, and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The ingredients in Coral Safe include Green Tea, which some researchers suggest reduces skin damage from radiation, and Vitamin E, which slows cell damage, and provides anticarcinogenic protection. Learn more about mineral sunscreens here.

Why use Reef Safe Sunscreen?

4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen enter in the oceans from swimmers, snorkelers, and divers annually. It has also been discovered that some ingredients in chemical sunscreen can bleach and kill coral. These beautiful reefs are also home to millions of other species and we need to be cautious that we are not doing anything to harm the sensitive ecosystems. Inside coral lives an algae called zooxanthellae. This algae provides the coral with food energy and gives the coral the beautiful coloring that we all love to snorkel and scuba dive to see.

Chemicals in some sunscreens can cause coral viruses, which lead to the coral expelling the algae that lives within them, and gives them their color and their energy source. This leads to the coral becoming “bleached” and it may even die.

What’s worse is when the algae is expelled it explodes, sending the virus into the water, where it can contaminate surrounding reefs and communities.

It has been reported that 60% of our coral reefs are at risk because of pollutants, overfishing, physical damage, and disease. Every little bit adds up to cause this harm and we need to take preventative measures to stop it.

One way that we can do this is to be careful of what we are wearing on our skin when we enter the water. Even the smallest amount of sunscreen can cause the virus. Biodegradable sunscreens are a safe and effective way to protect our skin and the coral.

It is easy to tell if your favorite sunscreen brand is coral-safe, just look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients on the label. These ingredients are not harmful to coral, unlike chemical sunscreens with ingredients like parabens, cinnamate and benzophenone. Ingredients like this are not only linked to killing coral, but chemical sunscreens can also be harmful to humans. Mineral and biodegradable sunscreens are a win-win.

Our biodegradable sunscreens are safe for the oceans, reefs, and coral. We use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are mineral ingredients that have not been found to harm coral. They are water-resistant so they will not wash off in the water for 40 minutes, and once the water-resistance wears off, the ingredients that may enter the water will not harm the reefs. Check out our full line of biodegradable sun products here.

Moderate Sun Tanning Is Healthy

Humans evolved in the presence of sunlight. Mother nature gave us skin pigment or melanin to protect us from sunburn. The closer you lived to the equator, the more melanin you were born with. The dark skinned people of Africa, Central America South American, etc., are naturally protected by their dark skin pigment. A suntan as we know it brings the melanin to the surface of the skin creating the brown color we call a suntan and this then protects us from sunburn in the very same way.

Dr. Martin Rieger discussed the chemistry of oxidization and peroxidation in his publications and emphasizes that melanin, the skin's pigment, is a free radical scavenger and protects us.

Dr. Ester Johns, Northern California Cancer Center, reports that sunlight is the only way we get Vitamin D, which can lower breast cancer by 40%. Sunlight exposure may reduce breast cancer 30-40% and ovarian cancer by 80%. Rates of breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer are lower in persons with more sunlight exposure. Cancer rates are highest in northern states with the least sunlight. White women in the South had a 41% lower risk of breast cancer.

Dr. John Voorhees M.D., University of Michigan, says that sunlight inhibits more cancer deaths than it causes. Cancer deaths are higher in sun deprived areas of the world and decrease significantly as one gets closer to the Equator. Malignant melanoma skin cancer is most common in people who do not receive regular sun exposure and most frequently develop on parts of the body that are not regularly exposed to sunlight.

Dr. Gordon Ainsleigh estimates 30,000 cancer deaths in the USA could be prevented each year if people would adopt a regime of regular, but moderate sun exposure.

There is evidence that, in older people, too little sunshine can increase susceptibility to a range of serious diseases. (AARP Your Health, June, 2004) Studies now show that Vitamin D (from direct sunlight) not only helps the body absorb calcium, building stronger bones, but also protects against a host of other problems, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancers of the breast, prostate and colon. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to an increased risk of falls among people over 65 and to persistent and unexplained bone and joint pain. "If sunlight were really that bad for us, we'd be nocturnal creatures like mice", says Francis Gasparro, professor of dermatology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Check out all of our dark tanning oil.

Importance of Green Tea in Coral Safe

Recent studies suggest that green tea may counteract the adverse biological effects of UV Radiation. Green tea was shown to help protect skin cells, and the effects of both UVB and UVA rays by its photoprotective effect on human skin and its polyphenolic antioxidant contents.

Green tea protection works in the cell after exposure to ultraviolet rays. Studies suggest it causes abnormal cells to kill themselves, a type of programmed cell suicide that prevents the development of abnormal growths. Green tea inhibits UVB-induced erythema response in the skin (redness reaction). At the same time Green tea supports the production of melanin, the skin's own natural sunburn protection. Green tea helps reduce the risk of sunburn.

This leads to a new strategy...Green tea combined with a mineral sunscreen. Coral Safe meets the immediate need for a non-chemical sunscreen. Each ingredient has been carefully chosen for its specific benefit to the protection and nourishment of your skin. Check out our full line of biodegradable, mineral-based sunscreens. 

*The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Coral Safe products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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