Is Sunscreen Increasing Your Risk of Cancer?

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Perhaps you've been brainwashed by the media about the dangers of the sun and how important it is to wear sunscreen every time you go outdoors. My son was told in health class that he should NEVER go outdoors unless he's wearing sunscreen, even at night, because the UV light can “Get Him” even in the dark.  Being a saavy health information consumer, he argued with the teacher, explaining to her the importance of daily sun exposure for adequate Vitamin D production.  She, of course, wasn't buying the information, especially since the source was a fifteen year old.

Perhaps she'll change her tune if she watches  the following videos from reputable sources…MSNBC and the University of California Medical School.    Maybe some of the references below from medical journals will be convincing.    According to Dr. Cedric Garland of UC Medical School, about 50,000 cases per year of breast cancer and  and 51,000 cases of colon cancer can be prevented by maintaining adequate blood levels of Vitamin D.

How do you get adequate blood levels of Vitamin D?  Daily sun exposure is the best way.  When you can't get sun exposure, a vitamin D supplement is prudent.

Everyone who uses sunscreen or spends most of the day indoors should get a vitamin D blood test.  Based on Dr. Garland's Research, the ideal blood level of vitamin D for cancer prevention is between 50 and 60 ng/dl.

For details about how Vitamin D and sunshine work, watch this very entertaining video by Dr. Michael F. Hollick, an MD researcher from Boston.  His slides are humorous, his presentation style fun and his information sound.  I disagree with drinking 3 glasses of milk a day, but most of the other recommendations make a lot of sense.  His website is a wealth of information.

Another good source of Vitamin D research is Dr. Mercola.  I particularly enjoyed the research that linked washing with soap and sunlight exposure through windows to Vitamin D deficiency.

Finally, there's the issue of the safety of sunscreen.  There have actually been studies that report an increased risk of cancer with the use of sunscreen because of carcinogenic compounds like benzophenone or its derivatives (oxybenzone, benzophenone-3), found in most sunscreens.  Benzophenone is one of the most powerful free radical generators known to man and it's activated by ultraviolet light.  For more info about the link between sunscreen and cancer, visit

If you'd like to really get into the technical details and cancer statistics, as well as the proposed mechanism by which Vitamin is believed to prevent cancer, take a look at this video by Dr. Cedric Garland

Here are a few medical research papers that support the Vitamin D cancer connection

[1]Annals of Epidemiology April 14, 2009  Dr. Cedric Garland

[2] Annals of Epidemiology July 2009, Volume 19, Issue 7, Pages 468-483

[3] Science Daily, “New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role” May 26, 2009

[4] The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology March 2007; 103(3-5):708-11

[5] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 2007; 85(6):1586-91.

[6] American Journal of Epidemiology October 12, 2007

Here are some of Dr. Joe Mercola's Vitamin D articles and videos

[1] “Daily Sunlight Can Keep Cancer Away” August 7, 2008

[2] “Lack of Sunshine Causes One Million Deaths a Year” August 24, 2007

Let me know where you stand on the issue.  Do you get enough sunshine?  How do you plan to get your Vitamin D levels into the optimal range and protect yourself?  Comment below!

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  1. Lynn Crozier

    Thank you so much for this valuable information!

    Another point to consider about sunscreens: a recent report has shown that so much sunscreen rinses off of people at the beach, it is getting on the coral reefs and killing off the coral because THEY can no longer absorb the sun’s rays properly.

    We definitely need to stop wearing sunscreen – now!



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