June 27th, 2011
By: Mike Adams
Ask somebody about sunscreen and you’re likely to receive an earful of disinformation from a person who has been repeatedly misinformed by health authorities and the mainstream media. Almost nothing you hear about sunscreen from traditional media channels is accurate. So here’s a quick guide to the 7 most important things you need to know about sunscreen, sunlight and vitamin D:
#1) The FDA refuses to allow natural sunscreen ingredients to be used in sunblock / sunscreen products
It’s true: If you create a truly natural sunscreen product using exotic botanicals with powerful sunscreen properties, you will never be able to market it as a “sunscreen” product. That’s because the FDA decides what can be used as sunscreen and what can’t, regardless of what really works in the real world. And there are really only two natural ingredients the FDA has allowed to be sold as sunscreen: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Any other non-chemical sunscreen ingredients, if sold as “sunscreen,” would be considered mislabeled by the FDA and result in your products being confiscated… even if they offer fantastic sunscreen protection!
Not surprisingly, this whole monopoly over sunscreen chemicals is designed to protect the profits of the chemical companies while marginalizing the natural product companies which could easily formulate far better solutions. I have personally spoken to the founders of several health product companies who have figured out amazing sunscreen formulations using nothing but natural botanicals, but the FDA won’t let them market their products as sunscreen products!
It’s just another example of the FDA standing in the way of health innovation.
#2) Nearly all conventional sunscreen products contain cancer-causing chemicals
Read the ingredients list of any sunscreen product sold at Wal-Mart, or Walgreens, or any other mainstream store. I dare ya!
You will not be able to pronounce most of the chemicals found in the ingredients list. That’s because most sunscreen products are formulated with cancer-causing fragrance chemicals, parabens, harsh alcohols, toxic chemical solvents and petroleum oils. A typical sunscreen product is actually a chemical assault on your body. That’s why research shows that using sunscreen actually causes more cancer than it prevents.
#3) In a nation where over 70% of the population is vitamin D deficiency, sunscreen actually blocks vitamin D production
Vitamin D deficiency is perhaps the most widespread vitamin deficiency in North America. According to the research, 70 percent of whites are deficient in vitamin D, and up to 97 percent of blacks are deficient.
Chronic vitamin D deficiency promotes cancer, winter flu and infections, depression, osteoporosis and hormonal imbalances. Depending on whom you believe, vitamin D alone can prevent anywhere from 50% to nearly 80% of all cancers.
By blocking vitamin D production in the skin, sunscreen products actually contribute to cancer-promoting nutritional deficiencies.
This doesn’t mean you should never wear a sunscreen product, of course. If your skin is really pale and you’re planning a day on the beach in Hawaii, you will obviously benefit from some level of sun protection using a truly natural sunscreen product. But an informed health-conscious person would try to allow their skin to achieve a natural, healthy tan (yes, a tan truly is healthy if it’s combined with good nutrition, see below) through sensible exposure levels that activate vitamin D production in the skin.
#4) You can boost your internal sun resistance by changing what you eat
Here’s the real secret about sun exposure that no one in conventional medicine is talking about (because, as usual, they are woefully ignorant about nutrition): You can boost your internal sunscreen by eating antioxidant-rich foods and superfoods.
The supplement astaxanthin, for example, is very well known for boosting your skin’s natural resistance to sunburn. Its fat-soluble carotenoids are actually transported to skin cells where they protect those cells from UV exposure.
The more natural antioxidants you have in your diet, the more sunlight your skin will be able to handle without burning. Nearly everyone mistakenly believes that a person’s sunlight burn response is purely a genetic factor. They’re wrong. You can radically improve your resistance to UV exposure through radical dietary changes.
I’m a great example of this, actually, as I used to burn in just 20 – 30 minutes of sunlight when I was on a junk food diet years ago. But now, as someone who eats superfoods and high-end nutritional supplements every day, I can spend hours in the sun and will only turn slightly red (which fades a few hours later and does not result in a burn or skin peeling).
Except for one time on an all-day visit to a water park, I have not worn sunscreen in over 8 years. I spend a large amount of time in the sun, and I have absolutely no concerns whatsoever about skin cancer. My skin, most people tell me, looks significantly younger than my biological age. That’s not from sunscreen; it’s from nutrition. Sun exposure does not make your skin “age” if you follow a high-nutritional density diet.
June 27th, 2011
By: Andrew Schneider
Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, according to an evaluation of those products released today.
AOL News also has learned through documents and interviews that the Food and Drug Administration has known of the potential danger for as long as a decade without alerting the public, which the FDA denies.
The study was released with Memorial Day weekend approaching. Store shelves throughout the country are already crammed with tubes, jars, bottles and spray cans of sunscreen.
The white goop, creams and ointments might prevent sunburn. But don’t count on them to keep the ultraviolet light from destroying your skin cells and causing tumors and lesions, according to researchers at Environmental Working Group.
In their annual report to consumers on sunscreen, they say that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective to use.
The report cites these problems with bogus sun protection factor (SPF) numbers:
- The use of the hormone-disrupting chemical oxybenzone, which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream.
- Overstated claims about performance.
- The lack of needed regulations and oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.
But the most alarming disclosure in this year’s report is the finding that vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, may speed up the cancer that sunscreen is used to prevent.
A dangerous additive
The industry includes vitamin A in its sunscreen formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging.
But the EWG researchers found the initial findings of an FDA study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, meaning the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight.
“In that yearlong study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream,” the report said.
The conclusion came from EWG’s analysis of initial findings released last fall by the FDA and the National Toxicology Program, the federal government’s principle evaluator of substances that raise public health concerns.
EWG’s conclusions were subsequently scrutinized by outside toxicologists.
Based on the strength of the findings by FDA’s own scientists, many in the public health community say they can’t believe nor understand why the agency hasn’t already notified the public of the possible danger.
“There was enough evidence 10 years ago for FDA to caution consumers against the use of vitamin A in sunscreens,” Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research, told AOL News.
“FDA launched this one-year study, completed their research and now 10 years later, they say nothing about it, just silence.”
On Friday, the FDA said the allegations are not true.
“We have thoroughly checked and are not aware of any studies,” an FDA spokesperson told AOL News. She said she checked with bosses throughout the agency and found no one who knew of the vitamin A sunscreen research being done by or on behalf of the agency.
But documents from the FDA and the National Toxicology Program showed that the agency had done the research.
“Retinyl palmitate was selected by (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for photo-toxicity and photocarcinogenicity testing based on the increasingly widespread use of this compound in cosmetic retail products for use on sun-exposed skin,” said an October 2000 report by the National Toxicology Program.
FDA’s own website said the animal studies were done at its National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Ark. And it was scientists from the FDA center and National Toxicology Program who posted the study data last fall.
In a perfect world
The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light, the report said.
But in the U.S., there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. European countries have more chemical combinations to offer, but in the U.S. the major choice is between the “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens zinc and titanium dioxide.
Increasingly, as AOL News reported in March, the industry is using titanium dioxide that is made nanosized, which a growing number of researchers believe have serious health implications.
The sunscreen industry cringes when EWG releases its yearly report — this is its fourth. The industry charges that the advocacy group wants to do away with all sunscreen products, a claim that is not accurate.
The report’s researchers clearly say that an effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but it wants consumers to have accurate information on the limitations of what they buy and on the potentially harmful chemicals in some of those products.
EWG does warn consumers not to depend on any sunscreen for primary protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Hats, clothing and shade are still the most reliable sun protection available, they say.
Don’t count on the numbers
Some of us are old enough to remember when the idea of having a tan was good, a sign of health, when billboards and magazine ads featured the Coppertone girl showing off her tan when a puppy pulls down her bathing suit bottom.
Going for that tan, we coated our kids and ourselves with sun blockers with sun protection factors of 1 or 2. Some overly cautious parents might have smeared on a 4 during the hottest part of a day.
But we’ve learned of the dangers that come from exposure to the sun’s rays, especially ultraviolet A and B. So today, drugstore shelves are crammed with sunscreens boasting SPFs of 30, 45, 80 or even higher.
However, the new report says those numbers are often meaningless and dangerous because products with high SPF ratings sell a false sense of security, encouraging people using them to stay out in the sun longer.
“People don’t get the high SPF they pay for,” the report says. “People apply about a quarter of the recommended amount. So in everyday practice, a product labeled SPF 100 really performs like SPF 3.2, an SPF 30 rating equates to a 2.3 and an SPF 15 translates to 2.”
In 2007, the report says, the FDA published proposed regulations that would prohibit manufacturers from labeling sunscreens with an SPF higher than “SPF 50.” The agency wrote that higher values would be “inherently misleading,” given that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful.”
This is being widely ignored by the sunscreen makers who are heavily advertising their 80, 90 and 100 SPF products.
“Flouting FDA’s proposed regulation,” companies substantially increased their high-SPF offerings in 2010 with one in six brands now listing SPF values higher than 50. “Neutrogena and Banana Boat stand out among the offenders, with six and four products labeled as ‘SPF 100,’ respectively,” the new report says.
The full list of the best and worst sunscreens can be found on the EWG’s searchable database. (Update: The database has been loading slowly today. You may want to try it again later.)
May 10th, 2011
By: Dr. Axe
Despite the decline in health today, the supplement industry is a billion dollar a year business (topping in at $6 billion in 2008.) You would think that with so many Americans spending their hard earned money on one type of supplement or another, chronic disease would be on the decline. Sadly, the rate of chronic disease continues to climb each year.
So what’s going on here? Americans are gulping down the vitamins but our health remains in a crisis mode. Some of these vitamins may not be the answer to our health problems and maybe some of these vitamins are actually contributing to our state of declining health.
Do you take a daily vitamin? Are you having your kids take vitamins on a regular basis? Let’s explore a bit more about what we’re really putting into our bodies and learn how to make informed choices so you spend your money on supplements that are actually good for you.
Fillers Found in Vitamins
Before we get into the specific five dangerous vitamin fillers let’s talk about fillers in general with supplements. Supplement manufacturers often add in a variety of fillers to their vitamin and mineral supplements for numerous reasons:
Easier and faster production
More appealing to the eye (colorants)
Easier to swallow (coatings)
The reasons for using fillers aside, the real problem lies in how these fillers impact your body and health. Simply put, it’s not good. Just like processed foods being loaded with additives and fillers, the same goes for vitamins. Any supplement that has additives and fillers will be harmful to your health in the same way those processed foods are.
The body doesn’t need or want these ingredients so don’t put them in there. They also block the absorption of nutrients. Now let’s get to the specific problems with certain dangerous fillers.
Dangerous Filler #1: Hydrogenated Oils
That’s right, hydrogenated oils are added to vitamins. These are the same hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils I’ve told you to avoid in the foods you eat. These are the oils found in many bakery products as well as highly processed, nutritionally devoid foods.
In fact, it’s been found that partially hydrogenated soybean oil is one of the major fillers in the majority of vitamins sold on the market today.
Partially hydrogenated (and hydrogenated) oils damage the body in numerous ways. They encourage heart problems, strokes, nervous system problems, block the absorption of essential fatty acids, upset blood sugar regulation and more.
You don’t want these in your food and it’s certainly not a good idea to have them in your vitamins.
Dangerous Filler #2: Artificial Colors
Artificial colors are being added to vitamins too. Artificial colors have been linked to problems from cancer to hyperactivity in children. These colors are added to vitamins to make them more appealing to the consumer in hopes this will encourage the sale.
Some of these artificial colors are derived from toxic coal tar. Coal tar is used for a variety of purposes some of which are roofing, outdoor sealants, exterior paints, heating…the list goes on but nothing on the list would indicate in any way that you should consume coal tar.
Dangerous Filler #3: Magnesium Stearate
This is one of the most controversial topics in the supplement world today. Many argue that this toxic ingredient shouldn’t be added to vitamins and is of serious health consequence. On the other side some say that it has not been proven by the scientific community to cause serious health problems in humans – yet.
Again, I urge you to remember that many times the science to back what we suspect can lag behind. It’s vital to make your own informed choices. When it comes to magnesium stearate you should know a few facts.
Magnesium stearate is used as a lubricant so that the vitamins don’t stick to one another or the equipment being used. This is the sole reason that magnesium stearate is used in vitamins.
The controversy surrounds a few studies on magnesium stearate. One study links this compound to creating a suppressed immune system. Other studies show that this ‘chalk’ will create a biofilm in the body. This biofilm blocks the body from absorbing any of the needed nutrients.
(This is yet another reason why you should rely on whole food sources for nutrients.)
Dangerous Filler #4: Titanium Dioxide
Titanium oxide is a naturally occurring oxide of the element titanium. This widely used mineral is used in vitamins as a pigment. It is also used for this same reason in many cosmetics.
However the research is now showing that exposure to this metal (along with other metals) can lead to problems with the immune function in the body.
If you’re taking a vitamin to improve your health why would you even consider taking one with such a filler as this (or any of the others?) Clearly this is an unnecessary, unhealthy filler ingredient used by the huge vitamin producers in order to sell more of these low quality vitamins.
Choosing Whole Food Vitamin Supplements
When it comes to supplements there are some that are better than others. Steer away from the mass produced vitamins by huge conglomerates (often owned by pharmaceutical companies) and opt for smaller operations that you learn about first.
Look for a company with a philosophy that reflects their genuine interest in improving the health of the nation. Companies exist, do your homework and find one you trust for all of your supplement needs.
I use Garden of Life products like their Raw Vitamin C  and Raw Vitamin D  supplements. These supplements are made from real whole foods and will provide the body with a source of nutrients much closer to the ones straight from nature. Your body will recognize and use these nutrients much better than any synthetic ones in the form of these filler laden vitamins.
Read this recent article on multi-vitamins  and choosing the right multi-vitamin for you.
Vitamins are No Substitute for a Healthy Diet
There’s no doubt about it no matter how high quality your vitamin or mineral supplement is it’s simply no match for eating straight from nature the way God intended. There’s a reason they are called supplements.
Eating a whole food diet full of fresh, raw, and local foods is the best way to improve health and fight off disease no matter what. There’s no substitute for the original source.
March 14th, 2011
By: David Gutierrez
The majority of sunscreens are toxic, environmental groups have warned.
“You want to look out for sunscreens with oxybenzone,” said Jane Houlihan of the Environmental Working Group.
Research has implicated oxybenzone as a likely carcinogen, as well as a chemical that is probably absorbed into the body.
Another concern is spray-on or powdered sunscreen.
“When you spray a sunscreen, or you’re using a powder sunscreen, you’re very likely inhaling small particles and that may or may not be safe,” Houlihan said.
And while you can hold your breath while applying such sunscreens, it may be safer to forego them entirely.
A seal from the Skin Cancer Foundation does not mean that a sunscreen is safe either, EWG warns, as the foundation will place its seal on any sunscreen that has an SPF rating higher than 15, or on the product of any company that donates $10,000.
EWG recommends using sunscreens made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which are believed to be less dangerous than newer chemicals.
Unfortunately, warns Friends of the Earth, the majority of such sunscreens are made with nanoparticles — particles 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Because particles of this size behave in fundamentally different ways than they do on the more familiar, macro-scale, even a safe metal may be unsafe on the nanoscale.
Evidence suggests that nano-sunscreens are in fact dangerous. Friends of the Earth cites studies showing that nanoscale zinc oxide can kill colon cells and brain stem cells, as well as penetrate the skin and travel throughout the blood and urine. The group also cites studies linking nanoscale titanium dioxide to genetic changes, Alzheimer’s disease, autism and epilepsy. Nanoparticles have even been observed to cross the placental barrier in pregnant mammals.
“These nanomaterials are being added without appropriate labeling or reliable safety information, so the public has no way of making informed purchasing choices,” Ian Illuminato of Friends of the Earth said.
September 9, 2009
By Mike Adams
Because I take a large number of nutritional supplements, I’ve become increasingly concerned over the years about supplement excipients, binders and fillers. One ingredient frequently used in vitamin manufacturing is titanium dioxide, a nanoparticle powder made of fine titanium bits. It’s best known as an ingredient in sunscreen, but it’s also used in thousands of cosmetic products as well as nutritional products.
Yep, if you take certain vitamins made by GNC or Centrum (as well as hundreds of other companies), you are eating titanium dioxide. And this is an ingredient for which no long-term safety testing on humans has ever been conducted. In fact, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, titanium dioxide may be a human carcinogen. As explained on the CCOHS website:
Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ”possibly carcinogen to humans”… This evidence showed that high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation*.
CosmeticsDatabase.com lists titanium dioxide as being linked to cancer, allergies, immunotoxicity and organ system toxicity, among other problems. Here’s a list of some of the many thousands of cosmetic products containing titanium dioxide:
That list, by the way, includes products from many well-known brands.
Titanium Dioxide in Supplements
Centrum vitamins are the No. 1 selling brand of vitamins in the U.S. It is made with synthetic vitamins. The ingredients label reads like a mish-mash of synthetic chemicals and low-cost ingredients with marginal absorption capability: (I’m bolding some of the more concerning ingredients below…)
Ingredients for Centrum Silver Ultra Women’s Tablets:
Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Pregelatinized Corn Starch, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Crospovidone. Contains < 2% of: Acacia, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Beta-Carotene, BHT, Biotin, Boric Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Stearate, Cholecalciferol (Vit. D3), Chromium Picolinate, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Cupric Sulfate, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12), dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), FD&C Blue No. 2 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Red No. 40 Aluminum Lake, Ferrous Fumarate, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, Lecithin, Lutein, Magnesium Stearate, Manganese Sulfate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Modified Food Starch, Niacinamide, Nickelous Sulfate, Phytonadione (Vit. K), Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Borate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metavanadate, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Sorbic Acid, Sucrose, Talc, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherols, Vitamin A Acetate (Vit. A), Zinc Oxide. May also contain < 2% of: Maltodextrin, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Sunflower Oil, Tribasic Calcium Phosphate. Contains: Soy.
Did you notice the artificial coloring chemicals, hydrogenated palm oil and the low-grade form of vitamin B12? Did you see that these vitamins contain talc and sodium benzoate? Check out this wiki page on Crospovidone, which is also found in the Centrum formula:
In fact, here’s a Google search that returns 382 pages on GNC.com that mention titanium dioxide
Vitacost bans titanium dioxide from in-house brands
Titanium dioxide is considered extremely unsafe by Vitacost, which banned the ingredient from its in-house supplements label (NSI). Soon, products from Vitacost may even be labeled with a “titanium dioxide free” claim to better educate consumers.
The high-quality nutritional supplement manufacturers recommended on NaturalNews, of course, don’t use titanium dioxide. You’ll never find it in products from New Chapter or Pure Synergy , for example. It’s not in Dragon Herbs , Mushroom Science or Global Healing Center. These are quality product companies that wouldn’t even think of using titanium dioxide in dietary supplements intended for consumption.
In fact, Dr. Ed Group’s GHC website offers this excellent overview of the dangers of titanium dioxide:
Most of the current debate about titanium dioxide concerns its topical use and deals with the particle size of the titanium. Coarse particles are believed to be relatively safe for topical use because they cannot be absorbed by the skin. But nano particles may pose a greater risk because there is concern they can be readily absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream. As explained by the Environmental Working Group, “Relative to larger particles, nano-scale materials can be more chemically reactive and more easily absorbed into the body. A number of studies raise concerns about potential health risks when these particles are inhaled or are absorbed through the skin or gut. Nevertheless, they are already widely used in products, including sunscreens, with no requirement that their presence be disclosed.”
That same page, however, admits there are few studies that have really looked at the titanium dioxide nano particle absorption issue in regards to cosmetics. EWG concludes titanium dioxide is unlikely to be absorbed by the skin, but it calls for more studies to be sure.
There are even fewer studies that look at whether titanium dioxide is safe for human ingestion, and that’s potentially a far more serious issue. Although vitamin manufacturers will of course claim “there’s no evidence of harm” from titanium dioxide in nutritional supplements, the reason there’s no evidence is because they haven’t done any long-term safety tests on titanium dioxide.
The “common sense test” asks the question: Does titanium dioxide occur naturally in the indigenous human food supply? The answer to that is, of course, absolutely not. That’s why holistic nutritionists and nutritionally-aware consumers are increasingly seeking to avoid this ingredient in anything they eat or swallow. If it’s not part of the food supply in nature, and if it hasn’t been proven safe for human consumption, why would you want to introduce an unnatural chemical into your diet in the first place?
The jury is still out on titanium dioxide, but until it’s proven safe, NaturalNews recommends readers avoid this ingredient and only purchase nutritional supplements made without it. Fortunately, there are a great many supplement brands available today without titanium dioxide (and other bizarre excipients). Just read the ingredients labels before you buy.