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Sunscreen Causes Cancer? What You May Not Know About Sunscreen

Patrick Gallagher
May 7th, 2012
Updated 05/19/2014 at 5:36 pm
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sunscreenspf 220x137 Sunscreen Causes Cancer? What You May Not Know About Sunscreen

Who would think that sunscreen causes cancer? It has been only a fairly recent development, but it still could cause some serious shock and awe when everyone figures out that conventional sunscreen found in drugstores nationally could be a potential risk factor for skin cancer. Sunscreens are made to protect and help your body, so why are we finding out that sunscreen causes cancer? It could be simply widespread ignorance, or it could be that the FDA has kept this secret under wraps for at least a decade.

Sunscreen Causes Cancer?

Studies conducted indicate the dangers of certain chemical compounds within sunscreen could be causing a variety of skin damaging ailments, especially when reacting with the sun’s intensive heat. Though the FDA had supervised and funded the studies showing key ingredients related to vitamin A as carcinogenic, they knowingly prevented the information from being released to the public whatsoever – up until recently.

The synthetic vitamin A compound found in many sunscreen brands contain retinol and retinyl palmitate, both found to react negatively in the sunlight, becoming toxic to the system. This isn’t to be confused with the health-enhancing vitamin A that is found in many foods – it is a purely synthetic and ultimately useless ingredient. When combined with the extensive use over time, this kind of sunscreen can lead to skin damage in its users.

These aren’t the only things to be worried about when applying your doctor-recommended photocarcinogen, though. Oxybenzone and other vague mystery chemicals are found amongst a wide variety of name brand sunscreens, with many of these having yet to be proven as safe to use at all. About 8 percent of all sunscreens have been quality tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to be both safe and effective for the intended use, whereas the other 92 percent contain at least one (if not many more) of the ingredients designated as detrimental for human use, further adding to the worry if sunscreen causes cancer.

This means the public not only has been encouraged to buy something that is known to be detrimental for at least a decade, but is only left with a selection that is 8% safe. Not only that, but the sunscreens widely credited as preventative cures for skin cancer are also the root cause of a widespread vitamin D deficiency – a vitamin shown to slash flu risk and fight cancer. There has also been a connection made between vitamin D and weight loss. Vitamin D production is extremely limited when sunscreen is used to protect the body from natural sunlight.

So, now that there has been some research showing sunscreen causes cancer, the question remains: what will people do about it? On a larger scale, it must be demanded by enough people for the harmful ingredients to be omitted from sunscreens. Until then, tell the companies using these ingredients that you don’t want their toxic products. Spend your dollar on a safe sunscreen with safe ingredients.

Additional Sources:

Environmental Working Group

From around the web:

  • dan

    IMO- sunscreens were created by paperclip scientists to create cancer. Cancer is a big business and the owners of this world want to make money off their slaves then their ultimate goal is death!

  • Dave

    The only sun screen I use besides light clothing is Astaxanthin. It will
    protect me from ultraviolet radiation, and help reverse the visible
    signs of aging, as well as protect my immune system.

  • prumm

    This article is harmful to society, this whole site is full of crackpots. Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife.

  • Will

    Good one , thanks for sharing the information , was worth reading it.

  • Shay

    First off… TANNING IS STILL A RADIATION BURN. Sun burn? RADIATION burn. What part of RADIATION is hard to understand? Tanning does not protect you from a radiation burn because it IS a radiation burn.

    Sunscreen prevents the radiation burn (which causes skin cancer as the cells are damaged).

    As for the Vitamin D thing, take a supplement. Even in high altitudes you have to take a supplement regardless of sun exposure because the atmosphere is too thin to synthesize the natural vitamin D properly. Humans don't need sunlight, they need the vitamin D, and it's readily available in other forms.

    These people who sit on here and bash others for wearing sunscreen (or putting it on their kids, like I sure as hell do) are those who must justify not using it themselves or on their kids in order to make themselves feel better.

    Stop cooking your kids in the sun. Radiation burns won't protect them from anything.

  • jamie

    One other thing. A dermatologist knows that labeling something on the skin as skin cancer gets him/her paid

  • jamie

    One word "Full-spectrum" notice now how every sunscreen company boost about it. Thats because for years they only block UVB the burning rays… The skin cancer from the sun can develop with over exposure to UVA the one the companies didn't block for the last 30+ years…

  • Goran

    Soon 40% of all Americans will have had at least one "skin-cancer" removed before they turn 65.

    At the same time the sales of sun-screen lotions are sky-rocketing.

    Something must be seriously wrong. One definition of insanity is "to keep on doing the same thing and expect different result". Obviously, the sun-screen industry and the dermatologists delivering the support to the "melanoma-marketing" are insane.

    Find out what is behind the "melanoma epidemic" from here:

  • ed

    hello….i am not sure about the sunscreens…..there is so much info one way and the other….jeeessss….one thing i know for sure, i limit my esposure to sun in the summer…if i need sunscreen…i use the white powder that is on the bark of the white elm tree,it is what indians use to use to protect themselves from the sun.

  • Vicki PS

    You know, my mother has an olive complexion, has eaten well all her life, doesn't sunbathe but has had plenty of sun exposure doing gardening, washing etc. Guess what? She's had dozens of skin cancers and pre-cancerous lesions removed, and now has to cover up all over when she goes out in the sun. My great-uncle was a farmer, fit, healthy, always wore a hat, ate mostly what he grew himself. He had a large invasive skin cancer removed from his face. You people who think that because you suffered no damage as children, you're safe, are fooling yourselves and putting your kids at risk. Get a brain!

    • John

      Guess what any thing they cut off your body they call it cancer. Guess what over 90% are not cancer. Your body needs sun so wake up. Most melanoma shows up on places sun never sees.

  • basha

    Did you know that the b vitamin Paba was taken out of the sunscreens? Paba pills prevent sunburn. I know from experience. I gave my kids paba pills in Mexico when they were 5 and 6 years old. They did not get a sunburn. They were in the sun on the beach for hours. That is why the companies took paba out

    of their sunscreens. That is why melanoma cases have increased so greatly, not from sunburn but from the ingredients in sunscreens. They just want to make money.

    I don't believe anything that the pharmacutical companies put out including all pills. The side effects are worse than the cure. It is a shame that this is such a pill culture.

    • jamie

      Vitamin D is the bodies way to fight and destroy dangerous cells.. A body guard if you will. Take out the body guard and you have will major health issues… read up on vitamin d deficiency

  • Breed

    Conspiracy much? Did you know that it is a proven fact that those of lower intelligence and lesser education tend to believe conspiracy theories far more than intelligent people and people with greater education? This is a statistical fact.

    What you're promoting here is guesswork and invented information. You can cite no scientific studies, and you have no scientists or doctors backing your information. That's the truth of the matter.


      Proven fact?? HAHAHA I know loads of highly qualified morons..

      You also believe statistics? So I ask 100 people something, 40 agrees with what I ask, 60 doesn't.. does this mean 40% of the worlds population agree with the question? Of course not! Well thats how your statistics are counted !

      what YOU are promoting here is guesswork and invented information

      • John

        This is a gross misrepresentation of statistical methods that are used to qualify for evidence in the science fields. And if you say, that's just what they want you to believe, then you truly are ignorant of statistics in general and the importance of statistical validity when it comes to scientific evidence. And no, I'm not here to refute the article, considering I agree with a number of the articles on this site, others not, but only after having researched them in both cases. Whats funny to me however considering conspiracies, is that the studies that show there may be a link are largely originating with the boogieman FDA. For instance the link to the site in the comments and others I've been able to find, use a good deal of, if not almost exclusively, FDA NIH and CDC citations. I don't think this one fits into the conspiracy puzzle I'm afraid. Just misleading advertising and corporate schmuckery.

    • Mark

      Breed.. Do you believe the official versions of 9/11 and 7/7 the london bombings? if so tell me in your own words why you do.

    • Ayrial

      My Doctor told me about certain sunscreens being cancer causing. I don't know about you, but she is way more educated than I am, and she's telling all of her patients to learn more and be careful of the sunscreens we choose to buy.

      Because of her, I no longer believe this to be just a 'conspiracy theory'. I think there could be something to it, and I have no problem doing some more reading, if it means keeping my children safe and healthy.

    • Doug

      Better yet, show me a study that says sunscreen prevents cancer. In fact, sunscreen companies are not permitted to advertise their products as cacner preventative. They have created and funded organizatiosn like the Skin Cancer Foundation to do the job for them. They even have a Corporate Council that includes a list of sunscreen companies under teh guise of charitable contributions.

    • Doug

      Sunscreen companies are not permitted to promote their products as cancer preventative s they created and funded organizations like The Skin Cancer Foundation to do it for them.

  • curious

    I have known this information and have been avoiding going to the beach and etc. Does anyone know of any products that are not harmful for the skin and really prevent sunburns?

    • prutt

      yes …Clothes!

    • Donna

      I go to this site –

      You can enter the sunscreen you have and it will list and rate the ingredients to let you know hox toxic your brand of sunscreen is to use.

      I hope this helps.

    • Christy

      I use unrefined coconut oil.

      • Ben Evans

        Agree with above, organic coconut oil for sun protection and aftersun skincare, say bye bye burns hello awesomely healthy lovely skin

  • TDL

    Funny how people say that we've walked the earth all this time and have never needed sunscreen until now but, our planet and ozone has never been abused the way that is has been either. When, we destroy our ozone what do you expect?

    A money grab? Possibly. I lost a family member to skin cancer and she ate whole foods, rarely if ever drank alcohol and exercised daily. I think there's something to be said about common sense. Eat healthy AND use sunscreen. Bases covered.

    • Barbara Brindza

      Bases covered? Well, only if you are using physical sunscreens and not all the time. The article above just spoke to the issue of the toxicity of sunscreens owing to breakdown of chemicals in the hot sun and the necessity of gaining vitamin D throught sun exposure, so sunscreens as a rule are dubious.

  • MIke

    Out of curiosity, I started researching this 6 years ago and there are plenty of data published in the medical community. Do the research, decide for yourself, it's pretty obvious when you do. Check out who published this data-

    I imagine if you sprayed SPF50 on your outdoor plants, they wouldn't last long. Would it inhibit photosynthesis?

    Don't put this stuff on your kids, use common sense and limit their time in the sun. As they tan more, they will be able to sustain more sun exposure…like we did when we were little. We've walked the Earth for how long? Now all of a sudden we need sunscreen to survive?

    It's does seem that people with certain types of skin do need some type of protection.

    • Shay

      Mike: Dear Lord… tanning is STILL radiation burn. It doesn't protect you, it's just a different type of UV ray causes your skin to cook.

      Don't put sunscreen on your kids because there's no proof that it harms them, but go ahead and let them cook their skin because it "protects them" even though it's been proven otherwise… YEAH RIGHT. It's people like you I want to slap when I see their kids running around for hours in sun exposure. We're not plants, so don't compare us to plants.

  • postman

    Funny thing. Up until I was 40 years old, I couldn't spend 20 minutes in the sun without frying to a crisp. All my life I was susceptible to sunburns and I had no choice but to avoid sun or use high SPF-value sunscreen lotion. Then, I turned 41 and starting eating healthy. Yeah, everyone's got their own definition of "eating healthy"–I know. BUT, one day after having mowed the back yard, I got in the shower and was blown away by the fact that the hot water wasn't burning my skin like it usually does. What the hell? Warm water on a sunburn ALWAYS brings discomfort–what's going on? For the first time in years, I spent significant time outdoors in direct mid-day sunlight and I didn't burn AT ALL! All I had done was to remove hydrogenated fats and oils from my diet and replaced them when possible with good fats containing EFAs, I reduced sweets and I began taking just those few vitamins that support fat metabolism and wa la! It's been 13 years now and I haven't needed sunscreen one time since! And that's only ONE health benefit of adding good fats to your diet! Read Udo Erasmus' "Fats and Oils" for more… — the Postman (

    • Cekaytee

      I tell you why you are not burning: you don't eat any refined sugar. The secret is to stay away from the sweets and you won't get any sunburn, or skin cancer for that matter. People who don't eat any sugar also don't get freckles. Look it up! Say goodbye to sweets and you won't need any sunscreen!

  • Fred

    Follow the money. Sunscreen manufacturers are making BILLIONS of $$$$$$$ with their products, and the buyers are frightened into thinking that if they don't use sunscreen every time they're outside they are taking a chance of getting skin cancer. Severely sunburned skin may be prone to cancer, so use a little common sense and avoid excessive sun exposure. Most skin-types will adapt to the sun by developing a "tan", but don't try to do it in one day.

    • Vicki PS

      Tanning gives you NO PROTECTION AT ALL from skin cancer.

  • marty

    please put in the 8% that are safe so that we can start buyin these

  • Les
  • wolf

    why are the people so quick to pass judgement on your article? is it so difficult to further research the information on their own.

  • TheLady

    People think I'm nuts, but I never use sunscreen, never used it on my children or grandchildren. I think the reaction with the chemicals in people's bodies from all the crap people they eat is the main problem, it's not that all of a sudden after thousands of years the sun is dangerous to the skin. And, yes, slathering your skin with chemicals is not a good idea. Sunscreen has turned into a hopeful quick fix instead doing some research, not falling for the advertising or the "experts", and changing to a healthy diet.

  • Source watch

    Great fodder for a story, but where are the sources you used to put this together?

  • illuminati

    list the "studies" so that I may do further research into your claim….I have always hated using sunscreen (photovoltaic electrician 13yrs-in sun all day)..but I find your "story" to be an opinion rather than a supported claim….show me the supporting evidence please…

    • Doug

      More importanly, list studies that show sunscreen prevents cancer. Their aren't any.

  • steve

    If you need a sunscreen, badger all natural sunscreen is the way to go.

    • guest

      Actually Steve Badger sunscreen was rated as one of the worst sunscreens to use by Consumer Reports. Price and an "all natural" label don't always equal quality.