In this Issue:

Guide to Sunscreen Safety
Practical advice on the selection and use of sunscreen products.

Support the Environmental Working Group
Who's watching out for your health and that of the planet?
It's not government agencies and big corporations!

Before You Use Sunscreen, Beware!

It's summer, and that means you're thinking about protecting yourself from excessive sun exposure. But wait — before you just automatically slather on the sunscreen every time you go outside in the summertime, think! Are sunscreens really a good idea?

How much do you really know about sunscreens? If you just go by SPF numbers or familiar brand names, you may be exposing yourself to potential hazards far worse than a sunburn. You see, most of the sunscreen products on the shelf contain highly toxic chemical ingredients. In your efforts to protect yourself against skin cancer, you may actually be doing yourself long-term harm instead.

Do Sunscreen Products
Protect You From Skin Cancer?

Most experts agree that people should use sunscreens to protect their skin from the sun, but they also agree that there’s no solid proof that sunscreens protect against skin cancer:

“FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer.”
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2007

“Sunscreens were never developed to prevent skin cancer. In fact, there is no evidence to recommend that sunscreens prevent skin cancer in humans.”
Zoe Diana Draelos
editor of Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2010

“It is not known if protecting skin from sunlight and other UV radiation decreases the risk of skin cancer.”
National Cancer Institute, 2009

If you decide that you want to use sunscreen products, this article will allow you to at least make wiser choices about selecting a type of sunscreen product to use.

Know the Different Types of Sunscreens

Physical-barrier sunscreens create a reflective surface on the skin that reflects UV light or scatters it off of the skin's surface. The active ingredients in these sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. These types of sunscreens are very effective in blocking both UVB and UVA sun rays.

Chemical-barrier sunscreens contain chemical ingredients that absorb UV light before it can cause any skin damage. These sunscreens (which includes most commercial brands) have long been effective against damaging sun rays, but many of them are known to have carcinogenic properties of their own.

Aren't Sunscreen Ingredients Tested for Safety?

Most people assume that any sunscreen product on the shelf must be safe to use, but the FDA last reviewed the safety of sunscreen ingredients back in 1978! This means that most of the chemicals in sunscreens have never been tested and approved for safety. As a result, sunscreen manufacturers in the U.S. have been allowed to market products containing whatever ingredients they want.

Due to this lax oversight by government regulators, testing of chemical ingredients in sunscreens and other personal care products has been left to independent labs. Consumer Reports is one; but they're of no help when it comes to safety; they rate sunscreens on their effectiveness at blocking the sun's rays, but they don't address the issue of whether or not all of the ingredients in the products are safe. A much more useful resource is the Environmental Working Group. I'll have more to say about them further down in this newsletter.

The EWG has found that chemicals used in most commercial sunscreens have significant toxic properties. Their 2011 Sunscreen Guide gives you a brand-by-brand comparison and safety reading for many popular brands. You can also see my page on Sunscreen Ingredients for more details about which sunscreen ingredients to avoid.

A Quick Guide to Sunscreen Safety

Ingredients to Look For:

Use physical-barrier sunscreens only. These contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. Regard any other active ingredient with suspicion.

Things to Avoid:

Chemical barrier sunblocks, which make up the lion's share of the market, including most of the well-known brands

Spray-on sunscreens create the risk of inhaling some of the mist — not a good idea!

Fragrances that can cause allergies and other problems

Sunscreens with added bug repellent that add toxic pesticides to the other harmful chemicals in the sunscreen

When Should You Use Sunscreens?

Regular sun exposure is critical to your health; moderation is the key. Don't stay out in direct sunlight for extended periods without protection. The most important thing to keep in mind is to not let yourself get sunburned. If you keep your exposure at sensible levels, you're far better off not using sunscreen at all. Only use sunscreens when you can't avoid extended sun exposure in the middle of the day.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary protection. Their report states,

"Sunscreens should not be
the first choice for skin cancer prevention
and should not be used as the sole agent
for protection against the sun."

See Vitamin D from Sun Exposure to learn more about the health benefits of proper sun exposure.

Recommendations for
Safe Sunscreen Products

Before buying any sunscreen, check out the Environmental Working Group's 2011 Sunscreen Guide. There, you'll find detailed ratings for 292 brands and 1,700 products, all in one place! You're sure to find the right sunscreen product for you.

If you want to save time and effort, go to my website, where you'll find several of the most highly-rated products on sale at You'll get the best discounted prices and all the other benefits of shopping at iHerb. Go to Best Sunblocks to see my recommended sunscreen products now.

Support the Environmental Working Group
and Help Save The Planet!

In my constant search for information on health and nutrition, I continually run across things that make me wonder about the future of our health and that of the planet; I read about violations to the environment and the safety of our food and water, committed with callous disregard for human health by powerful corporations that only have profit as their driving force.

Government Regulatory Agencies Are Not Looking Out for You. It's easy to assume that government agencies such as the FDA, the CDC, the USDA, the EPA and others are working to protect the interests of the taxpayers and keep us safe from toxic exposures. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. All these agencies are so entangled with big corporations that are constantly lobbying to limit the amount of regulation they have to undergo. Employees at these agencies who cooperate with Big Industry frequently are rewarded with lucrative executive positions with the very corporations they were hired to regulate. Take a lesson from the BP oil spill; this type of corruption isn't a once-in-a-while occurance; it's standard operating procedure.

In a nutshell,
government agencies work harder
to protect the profits of big business than
they do to protect your health.

What Can You Do?

Support Independent Investigative Organizations Like the Environmental Working Group.
The EWG is a group of scientists, engineers, lawyers and others whose mission is to expose threats to our health and environment and petition our lawmakers to act on our behalf.

Besides the research the EWG has done on sunscreen safety, here are just a few of the other campaigns they've been working on lately:

The USDA Uses Your Tax Dollars to Promote Lies About the Danger of Pesticides. The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), a California-based pro-pesticide group, has made the bizarre charge that EWGs Shopper's Guide to Pesticides (which reveals which fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of pesticides) has influenced people to eat fewer vegetables… how absurd! The California Department of Food and Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture than gave them $180,000 of your tax dollars specifically to "counter claims by activist groups about unsafe levels of pesticides."

Administration Protecting Big Oil and Gas from Pollution Regulations. The Obama administration created a panel to study hydraulic fracturing, a natural gas drilling technique that injects thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water into the ground. The panel is is dominated by oil and gas industry professionals, and does not include citizens from communities concerned about the damage to health, water and private property posed by the surge in natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. This virtually guarantees that nothing will be done to prevent contamination of our water supply by greedy energy developers.

Midwest Losing Topsoil Way Beyond Government Estimates. According to a new report from the Environmental Working Group, Iowa’s soil is washing away at rates far higher than anyone realized. Using Iowa State University statistics and an aerial survey, the Environmental Working Group concluded that average annual soil loss in much of Iowa is double the federal government’s estimates.

Meanwhile, the race to profit from high crop prices means that there is an intense push to create greater yield on more acreage and less incentive than ever to practice sound soil conservation. Between 1997 and 2009, the government paid Iowa farmers $2.76 billion to put conservation practices in place. It paid out six times as much, $16.8 billion, in income, production and insurance subsidies that encouraged maximum-intensity planting, not conservation.

You Can Help…
It Only Takes One Minute of Your Time.

As you can see, it's critical that we have someone who's willing to take on the tasks that our government agencies are unwilling to do when it comes to protecting the consumer. I urge you to support the EWG any way you can. Even if you can't afford a financial contribution, the EWG website and newsletter makes it easy to petition your congressman on any number of important pieces of legislation. They provide ready-made forms for you to add your signature to; it literally takes only a minute.

Please pay a visit to the Environmental Working Group website where you can quickly see the campaigns they're working on and find one that you care enough about to support with your vote!

Help Stop
Genetically-Modified Organisms

If you have not heard much about genetically modified organisms(GMOs), you may not know that they may be one of the most dangerous health and environmental problems we face today.

GM foods are already everywhere in our food supply. If you buy any type of packaged food, you're probably already consuming GM ingredients. Are you aware that 70% of the processed food in your supermarket contains GM ingredients?

GM foods have been linked to an increased risk in allergies, liver disease, reproductive problems and sterility and a host of other health problems. Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods.

So, please, if you haven't already, visit the websites below and find out what you can do to avoid consuming genetically-modified food, and prevent GM agriculture from take over the planet and destroying our food supply. While you're there, consider what you can do to contribute to the cause.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a grassroots, non-profit public interest organization that promotes and supports organic agriculture and addresses issues related to it, including food safety, food politics and GM technology.

The OCA is actively working to stop Monsanto from spreading GM agriculture around the world and gaining control of the world food supply. You can sign up here to support their campaign, Millions Against Monsanto.

The Institute for Responsible Technology is a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. Founded in 2003 by international bestselling author and GMO expert Jeffrey Smith, the IRT works to mobilize citizens, organizations, healthcare professionals and the media to discover the truth about GM foods.

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That's all for this issue!
I hope you enjoyed reading my newsletter,
and found the information useful.
Have a great month!

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