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      News — skin

      Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide and Safe Sun Exposure

      Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide and Safe Sun Exposure

      We would like to discuss a bit about the safety of “Zinc Oxide” and “Titanium Dioxide” in sunscreen.

      Tips for sun safety – to wear light clothing, hats, make or use of shade and to plan your day around the sun.”

      We feel it is really important to mention the importance of increasing vitamin D levels through safe (gradual) sun expose. Sunshine is good for you!  More and more research is being presented on the benefits of vitamin D and in fact, it is estimated that you can prevent as many as 16 types of cancers by having sufficient vitamin D in your body (i.e. pancreatic, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers). Interesting to note that receptors that respond to vitamin D have been found in almost every cell in the body.

      I am concerned when I see mothers apply sunscreen/sunblock if they see that their child is going to be out in the sun for any length of time, I truly believe this practice is doing much more harm than good. At the beginning of the season limit sun exposure to 5-10minutes a day and gradually increase the time so that in a few weeks an individual can experience normal sun exposure without concern of burning or doing damage to the skin.

      If you have to use a sunscreen, “non-nano” or “non-micronized” zinc oxide seems to be the next best option available although not without some risk.

      Most of the zinc oxide in sunscreens have been micronized or developed into nanoparticles with a width of 7-15 nano which poses a serious problem to your health and the environment.  At this size especially the zinc oxide can cross to the blood-brain barrier leaving plaques in the brain/body that will never metabolize. Even worse are the zinc oxide nanoparticles can enter any part of the body, including the lungs and nervous system, which can cause not only irritation and rashes but worse consequences such as DNA damage to the cells.

      My other concerns with zinc oxide is that does not allow the skin to breathe (blocks pores) or eliminate toxins etc (especially non-nano/micronized).  It is sticky and cakes on like a geisha’s makeup albeit protecting you from the sun but is ultimately unhealthy to have this substance on your skin all the time, all day.

      Even though it is wise to avoid the chemical sunscreens (methoxycinnamate, padimate o, oxybenzone, avobenzone, etc.), mineral physical sunscreens have been found to generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations (skin cancer) just like the chemical sunscreens.

      There is a book available called “Sunscreen Photobiology: Molecular, Cellular and Physiological Aspects” which describes;

      “Illumination of titanium dioxide suspensions with sunlight can degrade organic materials and purify drinking water, while illumination with short wave UV kills human cells. This work shows that the distinction between ‘chemical’ sunscreens and ‘physical’ sunscreens, attractive though it may be to those who market them, is not based on any significant difference. Both varieties have the potential to produce reactive species that can attack biological materials (human skin cells) when they are exposed to normal sunlight… What is established is that particles of titanium dioxide as large as 220 nm can enter human cells in culture, and so it seems entirely plausible that if titanium dioxide does pass through the skin it could enter cells under the skin (carrying with it the absorbed UVA and UVB radiation and hydroxyl radicals).”

      Another source from “Cosmetics Trade Journal” states,

      “Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are commonly used in drug and cosmetic products. Contrary to belief, Sayre and co-workers (Cosmetics & Toiletries Oct. 2000, 75) have shown that these physical sunscreens are not photochemically inactive. Although adequate coating can reduce the risk, an increase in the destruction of photolabile skin lipids is not desirable. The photo-peroxidation of unsaturated skin lipids may result in perturbation of the lipid environment of viable cell layers and degrade skin surface lipids. “

      Zinc Oxide is also widely used in mineral makeup and baby diaper creams, really everyone needs to investigate this further.

      What makes this even more concerning is that there is no law requiring companies to disclose the use of nanoparticles in personal care making it use at your own risk proposition.  Canada is still looking to catch up on the technology while the EU has already implemented strict rules for its use in personal care (coming 2013) – As usual, the US FDA is the wild West of regulatory safely catering to corporate requests. In the US Nanoparticles are prohibited in Soil Association certified products, but are yet to be prohibited by the USDA National Organic Program.

      Currently, non-nano/micronized zinc oxide with the plant-based base formulation is the safest option in sunscreens. However, I would strongly recommend using only a moderate amount if really needed especially considering some of the risk factors.

      Another interesting option is the oral supplement astaxanthin which is a potent antioxidant that when taken can allow you to stay in the sun longer without burning.

      Yikes! Temporary Tattoos

      Yikes! Temporary Tattoos

      Our daughter used to love face painting and temporary tattoos.
      As the opportunities to have either of these are infrequent, I would turn a blind eye as I sometimes do with candy or other unhealthy snacks that she manages to acquire while playing with friends.
       
      It wasn’t until we were celebrating Canada Day in Vancouver when we received a small Canadian flag temporary tattoo (from McDonald). I am actually very grateful that McDonald’s chose to list the ingredients in the temporary tattoo as most do not.  Well needless to say I am not ‘lovin it’ as the slogan goes.  I should have known better but here goes the list of ingredients:
      Vinyl Acetate, Butyl Acrylate, Methacrylic Acid Polymer, Propylene Glycol, Petrolatum, Linseed Oil Soybean Oil, Mineral Oil, Iron Oxides (CL77499), Blue #1, Aluminium Lake ( CL42090-2) Yellow #5, Aluminium Lake (19140:1) Yellow #6,  Aluminium Lake ( 15985:1), Red #7 Calcium Lake (CL 15850:1) , Titanium Dioxide.
       
      As we now know, just because it says ‘non-toxic’ or ‘FDA approved’ does not mean that these materials are safe to place on the skin especially as is the case with colourants.  For reference, the lake pigments are colours bound to an insoluble metallic salt, in this case, aluminium oxide. Many colourants are suspected of being carcinogens, teratogens (pass through the placenta into an unborn child) or toxins. The colourant with the highest level of concern is the D&C listed ones meaning they can be used in drugs and cosmetics but not food. It is especially recommended to avoid Blue Aluminium Lake 1 and 2, Red No. 19, Aluminium Lake dies in general, Zirconium Lake and Yellow No. 8.
       
      Lastly The Environmental Working Groups (EWG) Cosmetic Data Base has done a nice job of outlining the hazards and toxicity concerns of the most concentrated ingredient in the temporary tattoo – vinyl acetate

      Strange tastes after brushing your teeth

      Strange tastes after brushing your teeth

      Why do some food and drink taste bad after brushing your teeth?  

      The main culprit here is a foaming and wetting agent found in most conventional toothpaste called Sodium Laureth Sulfate, also known as Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES), or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS has the ability to inhibit the receptors that detect sweet-tasting compounds.

      Additionally SLS can break up the phospholipids of fatty substances on the tongue that keep bitter tastes from being too overpowering. When these phospholipids are broken down by the SLS, bitter tastes become enhanced. This is why when drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth you are likely only tasting the bitter citric acid or citrus bioflavonoids until the SLS can be fully removed from the oral cavity, either by ingesting it with saliva or rinsing with water.

      SLS is an ingredient that would be best to avoid, especially putting in your mouth. (The bucal membrane is one of the most highly absorbable areas of the body). SLS is the esters of Sulphuric acid – also known as “Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt”, the result of the ethoxylation process as previously discussed here

      Ingredients of Concern

      Ingredients of Concern

      DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)

      These three ingredients are commonly found today in our personal care products.
      TEA, DEA, and MEA are amino alcohols used in personal care as emulsifiers, thickeners, wetting agents, detergents, and alkalizing agents (pH adjusters).
      Often they are used in combination with fatty acids to convert acid to salt (sterate).

      Stearate can form the base a cleanser. Monoethanolamine is produced by reacting ethylene oxide with aqueous ammonia, the reaction also produces diethanolamine and triethanolamine. In my previous post, I discussed the ethoxylation process using the known toxic carcinogen ethylene oxide.

      It is my understanding that monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, and triethanolamine already have limitations for use in personal care in many European countries due to an increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer.  Best to avoid wherever possible.

      Topical Antibiotics

      Topical Antibiotics

      Many people do not even think twice when they use antibiotic creams and soaps.

      This is likely a very bad habit and here is why. As reported in the well-respected journal 
      Nature (Nature November 22, 2001;414:454-457), the skin has a built-in ability to produce it’s own antibiotic like chemicals to protects against bacteria and infection. This chemical is known as a human cath cell or LL-37 and works similar to antibiotics with the added intelligence to jump into action and increase activity only to cells under assault.

      For most people, the use of topical antibiotics will seriously impair the delicate balance of microorganisms on our skin. Compromising skin tissue repetitively can lead to more serious infections and a lack of resistance to pathogens even creating ‘super-bugs’.

      Humans have an important symbiotic relationship with microorganisms that must be respected. A recent Italian study found that exposure to bacteria is essential for the development of an infant’s immune system. It is now thought that a baby must be exposed to germs during its first year in order to develop antibodies needed to fight infection later in life.

      Dr. Stuart Levy of the 
      Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics has been cautioning against the overuse of antibiotic products for years.