New FDA research data reveal that a type of Vitamin A (found on the label as “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol”), which is in 41% of sunscreens, may actually increase the growth of cancerous skin tumors and lesions.
Oxybenzone is the most common active ingredient in sunscreen and is associated with allergic reactions and potential hormone disruption, and scientists highly recommend against using it on children due to its ease of penetrating the skin
Only 8% of the 500 sunscreen products tested by the EWG rated high for safety and efficacy. Their top rated products were all mineral-based, offering the best UVA protection without any hormone disrupting chemicals or vitamin A.
Many products are rated very low by the EWG for their inclusion of hormone-altering chemicals, vitamin A, misleading SPF ratings, poor UVA protection, and other concerns. Products by Banana Boat, Neutrogena, Coppertone, Aveeno, Hawaiian Tropic, CVS, Solar Sense, Rx Suncare, Peter Thomas Roth, Rite Aid, Panama Jack, Ocean Potion, and No-Ad all ranked worst, among others
One thing sunscreens are definitely known to be effective at is their ability to prevent sunburns. They do this by effectively blocking UVB, the shorter rays of radiation from the sun. In doing so, sunscreen is proven to reduce the risk of squamos-cell carcinoma, but not any other types of skin cancer. SCC accounts for only about 16% of skin cancer cases. UVA rays penetrate much deeper, and most sunscreens in the U.S. are very poor at protecting against this. Studies have actually shown that due to inadequate UVA protection, many sunscreen users may be more at risk for developing melanoma skin cancer because of their prolonged exposure to sunlight (thinking the sunscreen compensates for the additional exposure). Malignant melanoma is only 3-4% of all skin cancer cases, but is the cause of 75% of skin cancer related deaths.
Vitamin D is produced by your body when the skin comes in contact with sunlight. An important vitamin, it plays many vital roles in our body, essential for healthy bones and immune systems, and reducing the risk of numerous cancers. Sunscreen can block 97% of your body’s vitamin D production, and 70% of children in the U.S. have low levels of the vitamin.
more info on safety of sunscreens/blocks: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/sunscreens-exposed/sunscreens-exposed-9-surprising-truths/
list of safe(r) sunscreens to buy: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/best-sunscreens/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/