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News2013September › Sunscreens can trigger skin cancer, scientists confirm › September 2013

Sunscreens can trigger skin cancer, scientists confirm

Far from protecting us, common sunscreens can cause skin cancer when they are exposed to the sun's rays

Far from protecting us, common sunscreens can cause skin cancer when they are exposed to the sun's rays. Cosmetics can have the same effect, and it's all down to the titanium dioxide most of these products contain.
Titanium dioxide (Ti02) triggers a series of toxic effects-including skin cancer-when it is exposed to ultraviolet light, which is in the sun's rays. But even indoor lighting, which has very little ultraviolet light, can release free radicals in the skin, which is a precursor to cancer and is also linked to skin ageing.
Researchers at Luxembourg University tested two types of titanium dioxide on pig skin, and exposed it to indoor lighting. One form, rutile, had almost no damaging effect, but the other, anatase, started the free radical process.
Millions of tons of titanium dioxide are produced every year for use in cosmetics, sunscreens, toothpaste and food products. The compound is considered to be safe in skincare products because it doesn't penetrate the skin; however, it becomes toxic when exposed to ultraviolet light.
The researchers, led by Francesco Turci, urge manufacturers to start using the safer form of Ti02.
(Source: Chemical Research in Toxicology, 2013; 130912183629009).


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