New Video: How Much Sunscreen is Safe?

In recognition of Cancer Control Month, we’re diving into a news story from across the pond claiming that a popular natural additive, titanium dioxide, causes cancer.

If you’ve read our research brief, you know that the naturally occurring mineral compound is one of the world’s most important and widely used substances. Its unique optic properties and bright whiteness lend pigmentation and brilliance to everything from paint and cosmetics to candy and medicines. Perhaps most importantly, titanium dioxide is an excellent UV blocker, and one of only two physical UV blockers used in sunscreen (the other, zinc oxide, probably sounds more familiar).

Despite significant evidence showing titanium dioxide poses no risk to human health, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (Anses) recently proposed classifying titanium dioxide as a Category 1b carcinogen, which could significantly restrict its use.

The health consequences of eliminating titanium dioxide from our cancer-prevention toolbox could be significant, especially since melanomas are one of the few cancers on the rise in the United States. Proper sunscreen application, which consists of applying (and reapplying) just less than a shot glass-sized amount broad-spectrum sunscreen 15 minutes prior to sun exposure, can prevent the sun’s DNA-damaging rays from penetrating your skin.

Titanium dioxide undoubtedly helps us prevent cancer. But what about France’s claim that the UV blocker itself is a carcinogen?

Watch our new video below to find out how much titanium dioxide it would take to actually impact human health: