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Natural sunscreens

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The summertime tan isn't what it used to be

The summertime tan isn't what it used to be. We now know that sun damage is a leading cause of skin cancer.

However, some researchers are beginning to question the safety of the chemical ingredients used in sunscreens, citing links to endocrine system disruption and cancer. Among these are:

  1. diethanolamine
  2. padimate-o
  3. methylbenzylidine camphor (4-MBC)
  4. benzophenone (oxybenzone)
  5. octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  6. the parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, butyl,-and propyl-).

Titanium dioxide is generally considered a safe ingredient and an effective sunscreen; the US National Institute of Health proclaims it isn't "classifiable as a human carcinogen," although some studies cite it as a suspected carcinogen. Zinc oxide, which works by deflecting UV rays, appears to be a safe sunscreen ingredient. Some plant oils, including sesame, coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed, have been found to work as moderately effective sunscreens. PABA is also an effective sunscreen, but it can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation in some people.

The best protection against the sun's harmful rays is common sense. Stay out of the sun between 11 am and 2 pm, wear a hat, sunglasses, and light clothing with a tight weave or one of the new SPF fabrics.

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