My stance on sunscreen is no secret.
I tell you just how bad commercial sunscreens are… every chance I get. They’re loaded with chemicals that produce free radicals, disrupt hormones, and can even lead to cancer.
I’ve been vocal about big retail’s money-grab, and how they profit from every drop you slather on your body. And if you followed the advice of the American Academy of Dermatology, you’d be swimming in sunscreen every day.
The worst part is most people think sunscreens just sit on the surface of the skin. For years, I’ve been fighting this misperception and revealing the real truth… these chemicals are absorbed, immediately finding their way into your bloodstream.
A new clinical trial funded by the FDA and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association just last month confirms this. Researchers studied the effects of the active ingredients in four popular sunscreens applied topically and found that the chemicals were absorbed into the bloodstream. And at higher concentrations than an established FDA threshold.
Yet the FDA continues to tell us that sunscreen is safe, despite the toxic chemicals.
Take titanium dioxide, (TiO2), or E171, a common toxic chemical additive found in sunscreens. Just like heavy metals, TiO2 accumulates in your body and gets into your bloodstream.1 It has been linked to inflammation, diabetes, cancer, liver and kidney damage, as well as heart and brain damage.
In research published just a few weeks ago, Danish scientists discovered that TiO2 also shortens your telomeres.2
If you’re a regular reader, you know that telomeres are the tiny bits of genetic code at the end of each strand of DNA. They’re your biological countdown clock determining how fast you age. The shorter your telomeres, the more prone you are to chronic diseases and “old age.”
TiO2 is completely alien to the human body and most of Europe has banned it. Yet in the U.S. last year, the TiO2 industry made revenues of more than $13 billion.3
It’s so widely used, it’s pretty much impossible to cut out all exposure. But there are things you can do to limit your exposure, and to strengthen your telomeres.
Here’s what I suggest…
My 3-Step Plan to Strengthen Your Telomeres
- First, do not use commercial sunscreens. Instead, use nature’s sunblock… zinc. Unlike chemical-laden sunscreens, zinc oxide sits on top of your skin. It reflects and scatters both UVA and UVB rays so they don’t penetrate your skin. Apply zinc oxide generously on exposed skin at least 30 minutes before sun exposure. Look for micro-fine zinc-oxide. It’s nearly invisible.
TIP: Zinc oxide works even better when you mix it with a little cupuaçu (pronounced “koop-oo-ah-soo”) butter which also acts as a sunscreen. Look online — just make sure it’s cold-pressed.
- Second, increase your body’s natural toxin remover. I’m talking about a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. It not only protects your telomeres from oxidative damage, it prevents them from shortening.4
You lose glutathione naturally as you age. But studies show that TiO2 hastens this decline.5 Luckily, there’s an easy and effective way to boost glutathione in your body… by taking an amino acid supplement called N-acetyl cysteine (NAC).
I recommend taking 600 mg a day of NAC to boost glutathione.
- Then add these three telomere-boosters for maximum protection. Start with two chemical cousins that activate telomerase. Adopting a diet rich in L-arginine and L-citrulline trigger telomerase, the enzyme that boosts telomere length.
Together, these two amino acids team up to create nitric oxide (NO). Studies not only show that NO stimulates telomerase production, but scientists also found that when it’s blocked, telomeres become shorter and cells die before their time.6,7 Great food sources include peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and walnuts, tuna, chicken, salmon, lobster, shrimp, eggs, spinach and watermelon. Or, you can supplement with capsules available from most health food stores. I recommend daily doses of 1,000 mg of L-citrulline and 6,000 mg of L-arginine.
Make sure you get the L forms of these compounds, and not the synthetic DL forms.
Then, boost your folate levels. Studies show that TiO2 increases the pro-inflammatory amino acid homocysteine. This is one of the greatest threats to your telomeres. Studies reveal that high homocysteine can triple the speed at which your telomeres shorten.8
Folate, or vitamin B6, counters the effects of homocysteine. Studies show people with the highest folate levels have longer telomeres than those with low B6.9
I recommend getting 800 mcg of folic acid every day for your telomeres. Grass-fed calf’s liver is your best choice. Dairy, poultry, meat, eggs, seafood, spinach and broccoli are other good choices. You can also take a supplement.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Duan Y, et al. “Toxicological characteristics of nanoparticulate anatase titanium dioxide in mice.” Biomaterials .2010;31(5):894-899.
2. Jensen DM, et al. “Telomere length and genotoxicity in the lung of rats following intragastric exposure to food-grade titanium dioxide and vegetable carbon particles.” Mutagenesis. 2019;34(2):203-214.
3. Neslen A. “EU to opt against health warning for suspected carcinogen.” The Guardian. 5 Apr 2019.
4. Montserrat M, et al. “Mitochondrial glutathione, a key survival antioxidant.” Antioxid Redox Signal. 2009;11(11):2685–2700.
5. P Tucci, et al. “Metabolic effects of TiO2 nanoparticles, a common component of sunscreens and cosmetics, on human keratinocytes.” Cell Death Dis. 2013;4(3):e549.
6. Scalera F, et. al. “Endogenous nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor asymmertic dimethyle L-arginine accelerates endothelial cell senescence.” Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004;1816-1822.
7. Vasa M, et al. “Nitric oxide activates telomerase and delays endothelial cell senescence.” Circ Res. 2000;87:540-542.
8. Richards J, et al. “Homocysteine levels and leukocyte telomere length.” Atherosclerosis. 2008;200(2):271-277.
9. Paul L et al. “Telomere length in peripheral blood mononuclear cells is associated with folate status in men.” J Nutr. 2009;139(7):1273-1278.