Friday, March 26, 2010

More Sunscreen Stuff


Sometimes I am sorry that I opened up this avoiding potentially dangerous chemicals can of worms. Sometimes I think that ignorance truly is bliss. Sometimes.

In my effort to choose a sunblock that is not laced with poison, I've been using Burt's Bees Chemical Free Sunscreen. Aside from making my skin feel strangely tacky for awhile after application, it's been effective in helping me avoid the skin lesions that plagued me last summer. The active ingredient in this sunscreen is titanium dioxide. You can revisit my discussion about sunscreen and it's ingredients here and here.

Then I read this from AOL News:

(March 24) -- For almost two years, molecular biologist Bénédicte Trouiller doused the drinking water of scores of lab mice with nano-titanium dioxide, the most common nanomaterial used in consumer products today. 

She knew that earlier studies conducted in test tubes and petri dishes had shown the same particle could cause disease. But her tests at a lab at UCLA's School of Public Health were in vivo -- conducted in living organisms -- and thus regarded by some scientists as more relevant in assessing potential human harm. 
Halfway through, Trouiller became alarmed: Consuming the nano-titanium dioxide was damaging or destroying the animals' DNA and chromosomes. The biological havoc continued as she repeated the studies again and again. It was a significant finding: The degrees of DNA damage and genetic instability that the 32-year-old investigator documented can be "linked to all the big killers of man, namely cancer, heart disease, neurological disease and aging," says Professor Robert Schiestl, a genetic toxicologist who ran the lab at UCLA's School of Public Health where Trouiller did her research. 

Does my friend Burt use nano-titanium dioxide? Or just plain old run of the mill titanium dioxide? And does it matter? I have run multiple medical literature searches and have come up empty on this one.

So I guess the situation is this: Choose your sun - protection poison, girlfriend:

  • Use TD and risk destroying my DNA and chromosomes and who knows what else,
  • Use a product that contains oxybenzone and disrupt my endocrine system and get skin cancer,
  • Cover every inch of my body with clothing this summer,
  • Sit out the entire summer inside my house,
  • Adopt a what the hell attitude and endure skin lesions, nausea, increased flare activity and other sun-related yukkies after chucking the whole thing.
Good grief. 

Time to bring the old nursing cap out where did I put that thing..... and approach this from a purely rational perspective. I need to come up with a decision here, and soon. 

*Julia slaps her cap on and tries very hard to look serious*

Student nurse Julia was just downright strange. Ahem. Disregard the above photo. 

Back in my working days, we used to use a process called SOAP to document patient issues and arrive at potential solutions. I wonder if I can remember how to do this.....but here goes. 

S (subjective data): Client reports "feeling crappy and looking like a leper" after spending minimal time in direct sunlight. Expresses desire to avoid this experience, yet is reluctant to avoid sun completely. Also is reluctant to use commercially made sunblocks. Shouts repeatedly,"Sunscreen companies are going to kill us all" and "I sweat like a pig when wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, and stupid hats and I hate them."

O (objective data): Client frowning ferociously and vocalizing loudly. States is currently reluctantly using a product containing titanium dioxide daily as a sunscreen. On exam, skin is pale, underlying tissue flabby, but cutaneous lesions absent. Wearing dorky SPF 50 hat and a long-sleeved lightweight shirt. 

A (assessment): Client anxious and upset. However, in spite of her emotional outbursts, skin is currently without lesions and no flare activity noted. Body mass indicates that nausea is not a problem at this time. Assessment: measures to avoid sun-related problems currently effective. 

P (plan) Client in need of stress reduction measures which may include daily small doses of adult beverage such as lemon slush. Counsel client: to continue to use a combination of sun-avoidence techniques; that unless client is willing to hibernate indoors at all times, a combination of protective clothing and some type of sunblock is essential; that unfortunately at this time, all sunscreens provide some unknown health risks but the benefits are visibly effective for client; and most importantly: to put on her big girl panties and just get on with life. 


annie said...

Julia, happy blog anniversary (blogaversary???). I was going through older posts that I had missed, and noticed your first post on March 26,2008. Congrats and keep up the good work.

As you know, I am a recently diagnosed person, but I have had problems with sunshine and glare for most of my life. I have hidden indoors or under shades of trees/porches etc. to avoid sharp light and burning sun rays. I wonder if we can have an autoimmune disease for half our lifetime, and only manage to get diganosed a couple of decades later?

Julia Oleinik said...

Thanks, Annie!

Vladimir Levin said...

Hi Julia, I also worry about stuff like this... but we all need to keep in mind is that these studies with rats generally involve subjecting the animals to extreme doses, orders of magnitude higher than what people would use. It's useful information, but still, everything is about balance. If you can't go out and enjoy sunshine without some of these products, or worse, if you allow yourself to burn up, that's bad too! Happy Blogoversary!

Jenny P said...

I just saw your comment and had to add my 2 cents (I'm amazed I'm not 'broke' at the rate I give out 2 cents...).
I may be 'young' (24 next month), but my diagnosis trail is loooong. I can trace symptoms back to 2 years old, but I wasn't diagnosed properly until I was 15. I think 13 years is a long time, no matter what age you end it! If you want the drawn out version, you can read my post about it here: