Your Sunscreen Could Give You Cancer Instead of Fighting It Off

beachCan't wait for summer sun? Get in line. But first, the good news ... and um, the bad news. The number of sunscreens that passed the Environmental Working Group's 2012 test is higher than ever before!

Yay! Do the happy dance! In your bikini! With sunscreen on! Only, you better hope it was one of the one in four that won't end up making you sick.

Gotcha, didn't I? Things are getting better on the shelves, but they're still not great.


The EWG, which happens to be the bigwig nonprofit in determining what companies have toxic nasties in their beauty products, say that one in four of more than 800 beach and sport sunscreens passed the test this year. That's good when compared to one in five last year and one in 12 the year before, but it doesn't mean we're in the clear. A fourth of the sunscreens in the test actually had retinyl palmitate or vitamin A in them, a chemical the Food and Drug Administration and National Toxicology Program say heightens your risk of skin cancer. And you don't want to get them started on the hormone-disrupting chemicals and allergy-causing fragrances and what-not and what-have-you.

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Talk about your catch-22.

I put on sunscreen because I don't want to get sick. I put it on because I think I'm doing something GOOD for myself! But the way they tell it, I can be slathering myself up with something that is going to end up making me sick in the end anyway ... so what, exactly, did I win? Here I am looking like Casper, and all I have to show for it is, um, cancer?

I'm a summer baby, and I love the sun. I can't wait for it to come so I can stop shivering in my hoodies and jeans. But I loathe it too. Because I spend every spring standing in the store trying to figure out what sunscreen isn't going to actually waste my time, or at least trying to remember what is on the EWG "safe" list (thank God for smartphones, I can pull that up anywhere).

Which worries you more: what's in your sunscreen or what the sun could be doing to your skin?


Image via Ollie Crafoord/Flickr

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