This topic has been high on the list for natural, toxin-free, organic bloggers for a few years now. I strive to live as much of an organic natural life as possible, our little family makes it a priority at every opportunity, and you may have assumed that this means we are against a few mainstream items such as sunblock.

Making your washing powder to reduce household expenses and having an alternative that has no harmful ingredients is one thing, what can go wrong? Your clothes get cleaned, and in the worst-case scenario, you need to try a new recipe to get the desired result or worse purchase a natural version from the supermarket. 

There’s something that I need to mention before we proceed.

My husband has had skin cancer, and it was a nasty tiny little mole that didn’t scream skin cancer. It was one of those where if he didn’t get it checked when he did, we would have had a real battle on our hands. Surprisingly though, this particular skin cancer wasn’t caused by sun damage. It was a malignant mole that was always going to turn cancerous. So why mention it?

Because when he first went to the doctor, we discussed it as a mole that needed to be checked. It quickly became a mole that needed to removed and quickly, then it was no longer a mole but cancer cells that had to be removed immediately. We were no longer talking about a mole we were officially talking about cancer.

That word is not a word you want to be talking about at the kitchen bench when you are making school lunches. I pray that you never have to. It’s like being punched in the stomach so hard you want to vomit, but you have to keep smiling because the little humans in the house might hear.

The reality of not using the correct sunblock will increase your risk of developing skin cancer, and that is a fact!

The Cancer Council of Australia states:

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with a skin cancer by the age of 70.

Sunscreen use is one of five important ways of reducing the risk of skin cancer. The most comprehensive study of cancer prevention in Australia estimated that, in 2010, more than 1700 cases of melanoma and 14,190 squamous cell carcinomas (a common non-melanoma skin cancer) were prevented by long-term sunscreen use. 

But I’ve read posts talking about the ingredients in sunblock are toxic. So, have I! here’s what the Cancer Council of Australia has to say about that:

Nanotechnology has been used in sunscreens and cosmetics for many years with no reports of adverse effects. Nanoparticles are smaller than 100 nanometres and invisible to the human eye – a nanometre is 0.000001 millimetre. Sunscreens and cosmetic formulas and their components are regulated through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In early 2009, the TGA conducted an updated review of the scientific literature in relation to the use of nanoparticulate zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreens.

 The TGA review concluded that:

  • The potential for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens to cause adverse effects depends primarily upon the ability of the nanoparticles to reach viable skin cells.
  • To date, the current weight of evidence suggests that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (commonly used sunscreen active ingredients) nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells; rather, they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin that is composed of non-viable cells.

Since the TGA’s review, more recent research into nanoparticles has been undertaken in Australia. A study published in early 2014 exposed human immune cells (called macrophages) to zinc oxide nanoparticles to see how they would respond. The study showed that the human immune system effectively absorbed the nanoparticles and broke them down. The study did not look at whether the particles are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. The current available evidence indicates that this does not happen and the particles remain on the surface of the skin. Cancer Council looks closely at TGA’s advice, as well as our own evidence-based reviews. To date, our assessment, drawing on the best available evidence, is that nanoparticles used in sunscreens and cosmetics do not pose a health risk. We continue to monitor research on this topic.

Even if there is a small risk of the ingredients used to protect the skin did enter our bodies, is that risk greater than the alternative? I don’t think so. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I strive to create and raise my family in an organic, toxin-free environment as much as possible, doing so means when I have to make choices like wearing commercial sunscreen, I don’t bat an eyelid, because we are not bombarded harmful toxins at every turn. 

It’s about making educated decisions. It’s about removing toxins and chemicals from everyday items that we don’t need in our lives, so when we are exposed in some way, it’s not adding to the issue!

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