With summer around the corner, people are gearing up for “sun’s out, guns out.” And right on schedule, Environmental Working Group activists are here to remind the public that their group has a lower IQ than the average meathead at Muscle Beach. While most of the information pushed by the EWG amounts to nothing more than unscientific drivel, the recent iteration of its 11th Annual Guide to Sunscreens could literally give you cancer.
Everyone knows that sunscreen is the key to not being sidelined by a painful sunburn when shade or protective clothing aren’t available or practical, but EWG wants you to doubt sunscreen’s effectiveness. Its latest guide claims, “There’s no proof that sunscreens prevent most skin cancer”—in direct contradiction of the Food and Drug Administration and American Academy of Dermatology.
EWG notes that sunburns can increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. But the group seemed to miss the logical deduction that follows. If sunburns increase the risk of melanoma, and sunscreens prevent sunburns, why would you have reason to believe that sunscreen won’t protect you from cancer?
EWG’s fearmongering is part of its overall attack on anything “unnatural.” In addition to claiming that sunscreen won’t protect you from the sun, the group blames two ingredients, retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone, for making our SPF unsafe.
Retinyl palmitate, better known as Vitamin A, is an antioxidant that prevents the sun’s aging effects. Even four decades of clinical human data never indicated that retinyl palmitate causes skin cancer in humans. In fact, the human body naturally stores Vitamin A as retinyl palmitate in the skin.
Then there’s oxybenzone, one of the most effective broad-spectrum protectants for UVA and UVB. It gives some people allergies. But that’s about it. You could almost equate EWG’s fearmongering to the idea of banning milk to save all lactose-intolerants, except milk doesn’t literally stop DNA damage from accumulating in your skin cells.
EWG also calls oxybenzone an endocrine disruptor, despite scientific evidence showing that it would take 200 years of regularly applying the ingredient before any person would experience an endocrine health effect. Alternatively, just 15 minutes in the sun is almost guaranteed to cause some degree of damage to your skin.
Alarmist activists overlook that in reality, sunscreens are regulated like over-the-counter medicines. They’re safe, unlike blatantly false claims that “sunscreen causes cancer.” If the group keeps telling people to ditch the SPF, EWG won’t be the only ones getting burned.