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Study: Many Sunscreen Products Offer Inadequate Protection

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, July 02, 2008 7:58 AM EST
Category: Miscellaneous
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Cosmetics, Sunscreen, Sunblock, Skin Cancer


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto/ ©woman applying sunblock/ author: cdwheatley

A new study that included over 900 brand name sunscreens found four out of five sunscreens insufficiently protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays and contain chemicals that are potentially harmful.

Consumers are likely to be shocked to find popular brands such as Banana Boat, Coppertone and Neutrogena on the top of the list.

Each year in the U.S., more than a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed. The FDA has yet to finalize sunscreen standards first drafted nearly 30 years ago.

In the meantime, companies are able to claim, but are not required, to provide proper protection. The FDA is in direct violation of a May 2006 Congressional mandate requiring the agency to finalize sunscreen guidelines.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a comprehensive Sunscreen Guide – that includes a detailed list of 143 products that are safe and offer adequate protection from the sun.

Last year, the FDA proposed a new regulation to start including a 4-star rating on sunscreen products based on protection against UVA rays – the ultraviolet light most commonly linked to skin cancer.

According to the study, currently, only 7 percent of sunscreens do not offer UVA protection. Consumers should buy products that offer both UVA and UVB ray protection.

48% of the sunscreens included in the study contain ingredients known to break down individually or in combination with no known stabilizing ingredients in the formulation. Meaning, manufacturers are not required to produce stable products.

Overall, the study found that 3 percent of sunscreens were rated as inadequate. Most were rated unacceptable due to safety concerns, based in part on animal studies that suggest chemicals within sunscreen products could be deemed harmful.

Sunscreen Buying Tips

When staying in the shade isn't an option, to help stay protected, choose sunscreen products that contain both UVB and UVA ray protection and try to pick a product that has SPF 30 or higher.

Read the label on the bottle, the most important sunscreen ingredient is avobenzone, followed by titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. #

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