Breast Cancer and UV Filters

Breast Cancer and UV Filters

Posted by Jennie Fresa on

Happy Fall, Friends!
October is here!  The weather has been picture perfect in New England. Doug and I went apple picking and baked a delicious apple pie yesterday.  Okay, he baked the pie, I ate it.  We also set out to find the perfect pumpkin.  Fall festivities accomplished.  We are looking forward to cozy nights in + watching scary movies all month long. 
October is also #breastcancerawarenessmonth so I wanted to write this week's blog post to help you avoid harmful ingredients that are linked directly to breast cancer.
I started taking sun care seriously in my late twenties after a close friends mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. What does sunscreen have to do with breast cancer? Research has found that many sunscreens contain chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body, disrupt the endocrine system, and can play a significant role in breast cancer development.
Before you buy, get the facts on UV filters. I know summer is behind us, but SPF is still important for outdoor activities so I put together a  Q+A for you below. 
But first, let's review the BIG NEWS from the skincare industry. This past summer, an independent quality control lab, Valisure, found benzene in 78 batches of sunscreen from a variety of well-known brands. Prominent sunscreen companies have since recalled all the products listed in the report. All of the manufacturers involved are under public and governmental scrutiny for negligence. Here's why it’s important to keep it out of skincare.

Benzene is the parent molecule for a chemical group called aromatic compounds. Aromatic compounds originally got their name from the discovery of their structure being in most sweet-smelling compounds. They form the basis of a number of chemical compounds used in the perfume industry.

After more decades of research, aromatic compounds are classified as molecules that have rotating double bonds between 6 bonded carbon atoms: this is a very strong bonding mechanism, making aromatic compounds incredibly stable.

Benzene is naturally found in raw materials like coal and petroleum. Benzene is also a byproduct of various combustion processes. To break down benzene from other aromatic compounds, you need heavy metal catalysts and high-temperature heat sources: two reaction conditions that aren’t used in skincare manufacturing. This is why the Valisure report alludes to Benzene contamination rather than it being a byproduct from production or other ingredients in the formula.

How does benzene affect humans?//

Unfortunately, we are exposed to some Benzene in our day-to-day lives: it exists in cigarette smoke, car exhausts, gas stations, and other industrial emissions.

This being said, Benzene in skincare products is dangerous because it’s more rapidly absorbed in its liquid form than in its gaseous, diluted form in our atmosphere. Long-term exposure to Benzene can prevent our cells from working properly. It has been linked to anemia and a variety of cancers. (the above info is sourced from Botnia Skincare's Cosmetic Chemist, Melanie~ in he recent blog post.)

Note: I wrote this article specifically about sun care products, but remember it's important for you to consider the ingredients in all of you personal care products-- from your skincare, body soaps, deodorant and makeup.  I'm always here to help.
Ultraviolet filters, or UV filters, are chemicals that are able to screen out UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun. These chemicals are added to products to help provide protection against harmful ultraviolet rays and reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Common UV filters include benzophenone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octinoxate and PABA. 
Many chemicals used as UV filters in personal care products can mimic estrogen in the human body, and are considered to be endocrine disruptors. Some of these chemicals have been shown in laboratory studies to increase the growth and proliferation of breast cancer cells. 
Anyone who uses sunscreen or personal care products is likely to be exposed to UV filters. 
The best way to reduce exposure to UV filters is to read labels on sunscreens, cosmetics and other personal care products to avoid purchasing those that list chemical UV filters. Keep an eye out for octinoxate, octyl methoxycinnamate, benzophenone, oxybenzone, and PABA.
  • Choose sunscreens that use sun-blocking compounds derived from minerals, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, in a non-inhablable form. 
  • Avoid purchasing lipsticks, hair products, nail polish, and other personal care products that list chemical UV filters such as octinoxate or octyl menthoxycinnamate (OMC). 
  • When spending long periods of time in the sun, use good sun sense. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, lightweight long sleeves and pants, and apply a mineral-based sunblock liberally and frequently. 

I hope you found this informations helpful.  Always feel free to reach out if you have any questions.  Find me at

Xo, Jennie


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