Summer arrives this week, which means it's time to pick a sunscreen. Just don't pick the ones recommended by Consumer Reports.
The magazine recently reviewed sunscreens, and named two in particular as top values. And yes, you'll get a lot for your money with these two -- if you're looking to buy hormone-disrupting chemicals and known carcinogens that is.
If you're looking to stay healthy, on the other hand, then stay far, far away from the magazine's recommendations.
Before I get into picking a sunscreen, though, let me tell you a little about why you don't want to cover up at all times the way so many people do these days.
You actually need your sunlight.
Sure, too much sun can increase your risk of burns and skin cancers -- but too little can increase your risk of any number of other cancers.
A new analysis of data from more than 450,000 participants in a major diet and nutrition study found a direct relationship between sunlight and many cancers.
It just wasn't the relationship you hear about in the media much -- because in this case, researchers found that people with the lowest levels of sun exposure had the highest risks of certain cancers, including Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and cancers of the colon, lung, prostate, kidney, and bladder.
It might be shocking if this was the first or only study of its kind -- but it's not.
Another study earlier this year looked at data from 100 countries, and found strong evidence that the vitamin D your body makes from the UVB rays of the sun can help prevent 15 types of cancer -- including cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, lung, and pancreas.
And along with protecting you from cancer, the sunshine vitamin can help strengthen your bones, protect your heart and brain, and even boost your immune system.
So get some sunlight each day (and it won't hurt to take a quality D supplement while you're at it). And then, if you're going to be outside for a longer period of time -- or if you're planning to spend a day at the beach -- cover up with a good sunscreen.
And by "good," I don't mean the brands recommended by Consumer Reports. The magazine actually acknowledged some of the problem ingredients in sunscreens… and then recommended the brands that contain those ingredients anyway.
The big one to watch out for here is oxybenzone, an endocrine-disrupting chemical linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ toxicity and more -- and it's in both of the magazine's value picks.
Many sunscreens contain other endocrine disruptors as well, and more than a few are loaded with known carcinogens.
I recommend using sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide -- and as few other ingredients as possible.
For more help picking your sunscreen, visit the Web site of the Environmental Working Group. You'll find a breakdown of the ingredients in each major and many minor brands, as well as a details on the risks of each.
Along with sunscreens, the group also rates and ranks other common skin creams and cosmetics.
If you have any in your home right now, look them up in the online database. You might be surprised by what you've been putting on your skin all these years.