Just a writer playing with your ideas with my wild perspectives.
Cases of skin cancer in the world per annum recorded are close to 1 Million, and this number is only increasing, making skin cancer the world's fifth most prevalent cancers. Unprotected skin exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight is what causes Melanoma, and studies claim that sunscreen is contributing well by being the cause for a good number of rising Melanoma cases. Anyways these claims are as specious as any myth. Well, can we say that sunscreens are safe until proven not? I'd say "of course" if sex life and organ failure means nothing to you, but I believe it does hence my answer to this question is a big fat NO!
The biggest threat is from some of the drugs used for making sunscreens more aim effective. Skin absorbs all sorts of chemicals and when drugs like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and homosalate are involved our skin does the job more effectively. The researchers say these drugs are present in the blood after sunscreen application at levels that may require safety testing. On the regular application of sunscreens risk of accumulation of nanoparticles becomes so high that the user may suffer hormone disruption and photosensitivity. For the worse, Nanoparticles have not been properly assessed for their potential effects on human or environmental health. Researchers don’t yet understand the impact they could have. But because of their infinitesimally small size, nanoparticles may be more chemically reactive and therefore more bioavailable, meaning the particles are fast-tracked into the body.
These drugs are so hazardous that sunscreens are banned in some very popular destinations like Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Key West Florida, Bonaire, Palau and Garrafon Natural Reef Park. If given a closer head one will notice that all the places that restrict the use of sunscreens are mainly water body holiday heavens.
Not only is it harmful because it gets washed off of the swimmer's body and contaminates the water, but sunscreen can also get into the applicant's body and cause severe health problems. The toxins of these lotions get into the sea by other means as well. As I mentioned in the lines above, skin tends to absorb anything that lays on it, including harmful chemicals that we apply on our skin. Some of the most common ultraviolet-blocking chemicals in sunscreen, for example, oxybenzone can come out of your body in the form of urine within 1 hour of application. Someone who applies sunscreen when goes to the washroom or takes a shower leaks chemicals that come off of their body from the lotion enter the sewer. Without an effective sewage plan and water treatment management system, preventing this catastrophe is nearly impossible. Due to this factor, we can say that coral reef is vulnerable is human colonies are mustered anywhere nearby.
Let me serve it straight, non-degradable sunscreens are toxic to coral reefs and other sea life. But when it comes to choosing between saving your skin from harmful UV rays and protecting coral reefs, it's hard to choose the later. By-the-way, did you know that coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosion, and are home to over a billion sea life species? Over 50 per cent of the world's coral reefs have died in the last 30 years and up to 90 per cent may die within the next century. I wonder what will happen when they go extinct.
Oxybenzone and other sunscreen chemicals are toxic to more than just Corals. It is a poison for all mammals and also algae and sea urchins. These chemicals show embryonic development in sea urchins. These developments are said to cause gender shifts in fish, in which male fish take on female attributes, while females have reduced egg production and embryo hatchings. For mammals, these chemicals are a potential mutagen for they cause pro carcinogenic activity in mammal bodies. Studies done on mice and rats show that exposure to these chemicals leads to increases in the structural size of kidneys and livers, effects immunity, reduces fertility and increases uterine weight in juveniles. It is proven by so many studies that, human couples who use sunscreens with higher oxybenzone content had a hard time getting pregnant. Men with higher concentrations of these chemicals in their body had diseased sperm. Oxybenzone as per the reports is transferrable through breastmilk in humans and dolphins.
But if not sunscreens, what will help us fight harmful rays and skin cancer?
Safer sun tips
Buying ayurvedic sunscreens might be the right way but some sunscreens labelled as 'reef safe' contain ingredients known to harm coral reefs. It's because there are no legal requirements or regulations for the use of the term 'reef safe' on the packaging.
Pro tip: switch to natural. Use coconut oil as sunscreen, cover up with tightly woven wears, find shade, avoid the sun between 10 to 2 and love vitamin D.
And always remember, caution is better than concern!