Author, health coach, and health advocate Elizabeth Plourde has been on a one-woman crusade for more than a decade to see the use of all sunscreens banned worldwide.
Along with her editor-in-chief and publishing partner husband, Marcus, she's waging an education war against misinformation that leads consumers to believe that they're preventing skin cancer by using commercial sunscreens.
“We’ve been totally sold the propaganda, and it is rampant,” Plourde told The Epoch Times from her home in southern California. “The statistics don’t support the claims. There are no sunscreen chemicals that are safe. The industry says, ‘Use it or you’ll get cancer.’”
As a licensed clinical laboratory scientist, Plourde, who earned degrees in psychology and biological science, also practices as a North American Menopause Society-certified menopause practitioner.
The scientist and researcher-turned-health warrior once worked with state-of-the-art medical laboratories focusing on cancer and DNA research.
Today, she's relentlessly focused on exposing the life-changing effects of the toxic chemicals in sunscreens.
The extensive research from Plourde’s first book, “Sunscreens Biohazard: Treat as Hazardous Waste” (2012, New Voice Publications), paints a compelling picture of our relationship with the sun and sunscreen through more than 500 studies on cancer-causing chemicals, cancer, vitamin D3, other nutrients, and much more.
Her 2019 book, “Sunscreens—Biohazard 2: Proof of Toxicity Keeps Piling Up” (New Voice Publications) provides compelling research from more than 50 additional studies that continue to show the lack of evidence for sunscreens preventing skin cancers, specifically melanoma, the deadliest form, even as the media and sunscreen manufacturers continue to make the claim.
Instead, she has found that they contain cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, and coral reef-killing chemicals that harm us and destroy our environment across the globe.
“It’s a multimillion-dollar product, and they’re making a lot of money,” Plourde said. “We need to stop using plastics and stop using sunscreens. My major goal is to educate the public.”
The study, conducted at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, applied sunscreen to mice and found that while it was protective against sunburn, it wasn't protective against melanoma.
Without conclusive data, researchers suggested that sunscreens may even be causative of skin cancers. They also noted that all skin cancers in the United States continued to rise steadily, by nearly 4 percent each year. However, they were unclear about how the sun’s ultraviolet rays affected melanoma in humans, although other, less deadly types of cancer, such as squamous and basal cell, had been well established as related to sun exposure.
"There is molecular evidence that sunlight causes basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, but such evidence is lacking for melanomas.”
Researchers recommended sensible and limited sun exposure and the use of protective clothing.
In her 2019 research, 25 years later, Plourde said not much has changed.
“In 1994, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute study staggered me to keep working,” she said. “To do this to us and say that it stops melanoma, we’ve been brainwashed. Melanin is the very best sunscreen protection.”
Rather than coating the skin with a concoction of the 16 sunscreen chemicals known to be toxic to adults and children, Plourde is imploring sunscreen users everywhere to use a natural approach to sunning and tanning.
Her recommendations focus on limited sun exposure while eating a burn-protective high antioxidant diet and letting the skin’s own melanin provide natural sun protection. When the body’s melanin is depleted, that's its built-in signal that it’s time to get out of the sun as the skin begins to turn pink or red.
“Melanin is protective against radiation,” Plourde said. “Gradually increase your tan in the spring. Sunbathe before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m., and wear hats and long sleeve shirts.”
According to Plourde, the research also shows that the chemicals in sunscreens are hormonally active, meaning that they mimic the size and shape of human hormones.
These faux hormones fool the body’s hormone receptors and then trick the body into recognizing and accepting them, according to Plourde.
“Many endocrine disrupting chemicals, EDCs have the ability to disrupt normal hormone functioning because they are so similar in structure that they can take the place of the organism’s own hormones which can prevent the body’s natural hormones from carrying out its essential functions,” she wrote in Biohazard 2.
Chemicals in sunscreens, such as benzophenones, camphor, cinnamates, and PABA, have been shown in studies on rats to have estrogenic effects, according to Plourde. The research shows that we need to avoid sunscreen chemicals because they're shown to promote endocrine activity.
Sunscreens also contain two androgenic or male hormone-blocking chemicals.
And lest you think that sunscreens that tout so-called natural ingredients are a way around all the toxic chemicals—think again.
Aisles of sunscreen products that tout “no phthalates” or “oxybenzone and octinoxate-free” or “hypoallergenic” also aren't safe. According to Plourde, don’t be fooled by products that are labeled “natural.”
“The current sunscreen marketing strategy is to label them as ‘All Natural—No Chemicals,’ however, these products generally contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide,” she wrote. “While the manufacturers and wholesalers are claiming these are natural and safe, they are not.”
So how can we enjoy the long, sun-filled days of summer and throughout the year and still be protected from too much sun?
In her newest book, Plourde gives readers everything they need to prepare natural sun protection in their own kitchen. Her natural approach to tanning includes eating a high-antioxidant diet shown to be protective against ultraviolet, or UVA and UVB, rays.
“There’s a massive amount of evidence that proves antioxidant foods and supplements prevent and even reverse oxidation damage solar radiation can create,” she wrote in her 2013 diet guide, “Sunscreens Biohazard: Diet and Guide to Safe Sunning.”
“This protection system consists of antioxidant substances which form protection chains. Carotenoids; enzymes; and vitamins A, C, E, and D are the most important substances forming the protective system in the human skin.”
Plourde said it takes about three weeks to build up sufficient antioxidant protection in your skin, and then you can safely tan—until your melanin runs out, that is.
In her diet guide, she gives sun worshippers a thorough list of foods in all food groups and provides their antioxidant content to help sunbathers make the best food choices.
“We’ve got to make our whole diet antioxidant and eat as many antioxidants as we can,” Plourde wrote. “Antioxidants rise up in your skin and the melanin builds up in your skin. We need an antioxidant diet.”