Healthy Alternatives for Safety Conscious Product Information for your Body and Home

Shelley R. Kramer                                            Contact: 310 457-5176            

Director of the Cancer Prevention Coalition for Los Angeles


Return to Latest News

<--Return to Right to Know Page

Information about Sunscreens:

Most chemical sunscreens contain from 2 to 5% of benzophenone or its derivatives (oxybenzone, benzophenone-3) as their active ingredient. Benzophenone is one of the most powerful free radical generators known to man. It is used in industrial processes to initiate chemical reactions and promote cross-linking(15). Benzophenone is activated by ultraviolet light. The absorbed energy breaks benzophenone's double bond to produce two free radical sites. The free radicals desperately look for a hydrogen atom to make them "feel whole again"(15). They may find this hydrogen atom among the other ingredients of the sunscreen, but it is conceivable that they could also find it on the surface of the skin and thereby initiate a chain reaction which could ultimately lead to melanoma and other skin cancers. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School have recently discovered that psoralen, another ultraviolet light-activated free radical generator, is an extremely efficient carcinogen. They found that the rate of squamous cell carcinoma among patients with psoriasis, who had been repeatedly treated with UVA light after a topical application of psoralen, was 83 times higher than among the general population.

 Dr. Mercola:Should You Use a Sunscreen to Guard Against SUNBURN?

Absolutely! But not any kind of commercial sunscreen. More on that in a moment — but first, let me just say…

As much as I prefer you steer clear of sunscreens because they interfere with natural vitamin D production, there is one critical exception.

The exception is when it is impossible to limit full body exposure to sunlight! So if you can’t limit your exposure for whatever reason, do use a safe sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn. It is for YOUR own good.

You see, many studies have shown that excess sun exposure that causes sunburn is a well-proven risk factor for melanoma (a very dangerous type of skin cancer.)

More importantly, your risk of getting melanoma increases in relationship to sunburn frequency and severity. Limiting sun exposure, wearing protective clothing, and using a 100% all-natural, non-chemical sunscreen lotion may reduce the risks of skin cancer and other harmful effects of the sun.

Other studies revealed that people who spend more time outdoors without getting sunburn, actually decrease their risk of developing melanoma.

Now get this:

Safe sunlight exposure has also been shown to protect against as many as sixteen different types of cancer, including breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, ovarian, bladder, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, and renal cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

So, yes, your body needs a bit of unprotected sun exposure. For all the benefits I’ve mentioned earlier. But if you can’t avoid the following three scenarios:

  • You’re forced to be in the direct rays of the sun for a longer time than is safe…

  • You must go into intense sunlight without having the opportunity to gradually build up to it…

  • You’re in a situation where blocking the sun with strategic clothing or sunshades is impractical…

…use a sunscreen to help guard against sunburn. But, don’t just slap on any of the standard commercial brands you find on store shelves. With that in mind…

It’s Time to Expose the Sunscreen Smokescreen!

In my opinion, corporate greed has created products that are harmful.

I’m talking hundreds of sunscreens that I believe are toxic to your skin because they contain man-made chemicals ... chemicals I believe can cause serious health problems and increase your risk of disease. Here’s why.

The main chemical used in sunscreens to filter out ultraviolet B light is octyl methoxycinnamate. OMC for short. OMC was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses.  Plus, it was also shown to be particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. And guess what?

OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands!

But that’s not the half of it. A common ultraviolet A filter, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, has also demonstrated toxic properties.

Furthermore, several studies show that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your blood stream. Not good. So…

If Your Sunscreen Contains Any of These Chemicals That I Consider Dangerous and Potentially Life Threatening, Do Yourself a BIG Favor…

Dump it in the trash now .

Yes, that’s right. Toss your sunscreen in the trash if it contains any of these questionable chemicals:

Toss your sunscreen in the trash if it contains any of these chemicals I consider to be potentially harmful.

  • Para amino benzoic acid…

  • Octyl salicyclate…

  • Avobenzone…

  • Oxybenzone…

  • Cinoxate…

  • Padimate O…

  • Dioxybenzone…

  • Phenylbenzimidazole…

  • Homosalate…

  • Sulisobenzone…

  • Menthyl anthranilate…

  • Trolamine salicyclate…

  • Octocrylene…

And, oh yes, let me not forget…

Potentially harmful chemicals such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone (two chemicals I just mentioned) are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man!

So if your sunscreen contains dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or any of the other chemicals I just revealed, I highly recommend you switch to a formula that is safe and healthy for your skin.

And a note to moms … You are undoubtedly very conscientious about caring for your children.  But when you lather up your son or daughter with sunscreen thinking you’re doing the right thing, you could in fact be doing more harm than good.

So check the labels on your sunscreen, and throw them out if they contain any of the potentially dangerous chemicals named above.  After all, your skin is your largest organ, as your child’s skin is theirs.

Fortunately, there’s a much better option than chemical-laden commercial sunscreens…

 FYI: Neways Sunbrero Sunblock does not contain any of the above chemicals Find out more.

More Studies on Sunscreens

 Studies of Sunscreen Ingredients, 1997

Regarding the explosion of the sun and excess radiation, yesterday my
daughter got a sunburn after I applied her normal amount of sunscreen
that usually protects her. And it was foggy here most of the day. I
wondered if there was excess radiation by the sun.

I'm continuing to look for information on sunscreen ingredients. If
anyone has more information, please e-mail me. I'm writing an article
on this for the next issue of Healthy Child. The following are some of
the studies I found:

Lancet 1997 Sep 20;350(9081):863-4
Systemic absorption of sunscreen after topical application.
Hayden CG, Roberts MS, Benson HA

Some excerpts from this study:

"It is often assumed that little or none of a topically applied
substance is absorbed into the systemic circulation. We show that
substantial amounts of an applied sunscreen, oxybenzone, are absorbed
and subsequently excreted in human urine. Oxybenzone has low acute
toxicity in animal studies yet little is know about its chronic
toxicity and disposition after topical application in people.
Oxybenzone is a benzophenone derivative commonly used throughout the
world to make sun-products with especially high sun protection factors

"Our results suggest that sunscreens should not be the sole method of
sun protection. It would be prudent not to apply oxybenzone to large
surface areas of skin for extended and repeated periods of time,
unless no alternative protection is available. There may be an
additional concern for young children who have less well-developed
processes of elimination, and have a larger surface area per body
weight than adults, with respect to systemic availability of a
topically applied dose."

Other studies of interest:

British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 48 (4), 635-637
© Blackwell Science Ltd

Absorption of sunscreens across
human skin: an evaluation of
commercial products for children and
R. Jiang2, M. S. Roberts3, D. M. Collins2 and
H. A. E. Benson1

Aims Topical sunscreens are routinely applied to the skin by a
large percentage of the population. This study assessed the extent
of absorption of a number of common chemical sunscreen agents
into and through human skin following application of commercially
available products.

Methods Sunscreen products were applied to excised human
epidermis in Franz diffusion cells with the amount penetrating into
and across the epidermis assessed by h.p.l.c. for 8 h following

Results All sunscreen agents investigated penetrated into the skin
(0.25 g m-2 or 14% of applied dose), but only benzophenone-3
passed through the skin in significant amounts (0.08 g m-2 or 10%
of the applied dose). With one exception, suncreen agents in
corresponding products marketed for adults and children had
similar skin penetration profiles.

Conclusions Whilst limited absorption across the skin was
observed for the majority of the sunscreens tested,
benzophenone-3 demonstrated sufficiently high penetration to
warrant further investigation of its continued application.

4: Australas J Dermatol 1999 Feb;40(1):51-3

Related Articles, Books, LinkOut

The PABA story.

Mackie BS, Mackie LE Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, Australia.

The qualities of para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
are discussed and an account is given of how it
came to be the favorite sunscreen of the post
World War II era. Slowly, however,
dermatologists became aware that it was a
fairly common sensitizer and that it tended to
cross-sensitize with compounds of similar
chemical structure both in contact with the skin and
given as systemic drugs. Furthermore, continued
exposure to chemicals of this type could lead to
autoimmune responses especially systemic lupus
erythematosus and dermatomyositis. Discussion
of these complications from the use of PABA
took place at two meetings of the Dermatological
Association of Australia in 1964 and 1965, and
played a part in the slow withdrawal of PABA
from sunscreens.

Publication Types: Historical article

PMID: 10098293, UI: 99198366 29: FEBS Lett 1997 Nov 24;418(1-2):87-90

Related Articles, Books, LinkOut

Chemical oxidation and DNA damage catalyzed by
inorganic sunscreen ingredients.

Dunford R, Salinaro A, Cai L, Serpone N,
Horikoshi S, Hidaka H, Knowland J

University of Oxford, Department of
Biochemistry, UK.

This is now a known carcinogen Titanium dioxide (TiO2) has been noted (US
Federal Register, 43FR38206, 25 August 1978) to
be an unsafe physical sunscreen because it
reflects and scatters UVB and UVA in sunlight.
However, TiO2 absorbs about 70% of incident UV,
and in aqueous environments this leads to
the generation of hydroxyl radicals which can
initiate oxidations. Using chemical methods, we
show that all sunscreen TiO2 samples tested
catalyze the photo-oxidation of a representative
organic substrate (phenol). We also show that
sunlight-illuminated TiO2 catalyses DNA damage
both in vitro and in human cells. These results
may be relevant to the overall effects of sunscreens.

PMID: 9414101, UI: 98074912

45: Toxicol Lett 1995 Oct;80(1-3):61-7

Related Articles, Books, LinkOut

Safety evaluation of benzophenone-3 after
dermal administration in rats.

Okereke CS, Barat SA, Abdel-Rahman MS

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology,
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New
Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark
07103-2714, USA.

Benzophenone-3 (BZ-3) is a category 1
(over-the-counter) product approved by the US Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a
sunscreen agent in medicine, cosmetics, industry,
and agriculture. This is due to its ability to
absorb and dissipate ultraviolet light in a harmless
manner, thus protecting human skin and products
from UV irradiation. This study investigated the
safety of BZ-3 after repeated administration.
BZ-3 in ointment base was applied at a dose of 100
mg/kg body wt. twice daily, for 4 weeks to the
skin of male Sprague-Dawley rats. Body weight,
organ to body weight ratios, hematological, and
clinical chemistry parameters were not effected.
Pathological examination revealed no
significant changes between control and treated animals.
No gross external abnormalities were observed.
Both in vivo and in vitro blood glutathione
(GSH) levels were effected by BZ-3 treatment.
However, after 60 min of incubation, a reversal
of this effect was observed in the treatment
group as blood GSH levels approached normal
levels. Furthermore, investigation of
GSH-reductase and peroxidase with time indicated an
increase in GSH-reductase activity at 60 and 90
min with no effect on GSH-peroxidase.
Pre-treatment with phenobarbital modulated the
metabolic disposition of BZ-3. There was an
increase in the formation of the hydroxy
metabolites but not the O-dealkylated form. This study
suggests that BZ-3 is not toxic to rats when
applied dermally at a dose of 100 mg/kg body wt.
for 4 weeks.

PMID: 7482593, UI: 96062138 65: FEBS Lett 1993 Jun 21;324(3):309-13

Related Articles, Books, LinkOut

Sunlight-induced mutagenicity of a common
sunscreen ingredient.

Knowland J, McKenzie EA, McHugh PJ, Cridland NA

Department of Biochemistry, South Parks Road,
Oxford OX1 3QU, UK.

We have tested the mutagenicity of a UV-B
sunscreen ingredient called Padimate-O or octyl
dimethyl PABA, which, chemically speaking, is
identical to an industrial chemical that generates
free radicals when illuminated. It is harmless
in the dark but mutagenic in sunlight, attacking DNA
directly. A commercial sunscreen containing
Padimate-O behaves in the same way. UV-A in
sunlight also excites Padimate-O, although less
than UV-B. Some related compounds, including a
known carcinogen, behave similarly. As mutagens
may be carcinogenic, our results suggest that
some sunscreens could, while preventing
sunburn, contribute to sunlight-related cancers.

Comment in: FEBS Lett 1993 Dec
20;336(1):184-5; discussion 186

PMID: 8405372, UI: 94009604 64: J Toxicol Environ Health 1997 Aug 8;51(5):447-62

Related Articles, Books, LinkOut
Effect of environmental conditions on the
penetration of benzene through
human skin.

Nakai JS, Chu I, Li-Muller A, Aucoin R

Health Canada, Bureau of Chemical Hazards,
Environmental Health Centre, Ottawa, Ontario,

The in vitro penetration of [14C]benzene
through freshly prepared human skin was examined
under a variety of skin conditions associated
with swimming and bathing. The experimental
system utilized a recirculating donor solution
and a flow-through receiver solution, and was
modified to accommodate the analysis of
volatiles. The permeability coefficient of 0.14 cm/h
under standard conditions at 26 degrees C was
found to increase to 0.26 cm/h at 50 degrees C
and decrease to 0.10 cm/h at 15 degrees C.
Storage of the skin at- 20 degrees C did not affect
the penetration of benzene. Application of baby
oil, moisturizer, or insect repellant to the skin
before exposure under standard conditions did
not affect the flux of benzene, but a significant
increase was observed when the skin was
pretreated with sunscreen (permeability coefficient
0.24 cm/h). These results suggest that risk
assessment or exposure modeling for benzene and
other environmental contaminants should account
for appropriate changes in the environmental
conditions when considering the dermal route of

PMID: 9233379, UI: 97377744

24: Mutat Res 1998 May 11;414(1-3):15-20

Related Articles, Books, LinkOut

Induction of sister chromatid exchanges and
micronuclei by titanium
dioxide in Chinese hamster ovary-K1 cells.

Lu PJ, Ho IC, Lee TC

Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia
Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) has color properties of
extreme whiteness and brightness, is relatively
inexpensive, and is extensively used as a white
pigment in a variety of materials. TiO2, an
effective blocker of ultraviolet light, is
frequently added to sunscreens and cosmetic creams.
However, the genotoxicity of TiO2 remains to be
controversial. In this report, we have
demonstrated that TiO2 can be transported into
Chinese hamster ovary-K1 (CHO-K1) cells.
The effects of TiO2 on induction of sister
chromatid exchanges (SCE) and micronuclei (MN)
were then studied in these cells. The SCE
frequency in CHO-K1 cells treated with TiO2 at a
nonlethal dose range (0 to 5 microM) for 24 h
was significantly and dose-dependently increased.
By the conventional MN assay, TiO2 at the dose
ranged from 0 to 20 microM slightly increased
the MN frequency in CHO-K1 cells. However, in
the cytokinesis-block MN assay, the number
of MN per 1000 binucleated cells was
significantly and dose-dependently enhanced in CHO-K1
cells treated TiO2 at the same dose range for
24 h. These results suggest that TiO2 is a potential
genotoxic agent. Copyright 1998 Elsevier
Science B.V.

PMID: 9630482, UI: 98296327

Jane Sheppard
Future Generations
Publisher of Healthy Child Newsletter
Vital, In-depth Information on Children's Health Issues

FYI: Neways Sunbrero Sunblock does not contain any of the above chemicals Find out more.

  top of page

Copyright © All rights reserved.

Telephone: 310-457-5176 or 888-377-8877 | Fax: 877-885-4657 | For General Information:

Webmaster for Shelley R. Kramer