Is Sunscreen Safe?

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Sunscreen has been getting a lot of press lately - questions being raised regarding the safety of the ingredients used and if in fact, sunscreen use reduces the risk of skin cancer.


First let’s start with some statistics... skin cancer is the most common type of malignancy in the United States and it affects more than three million people a year. Sunscreen, if used properly - and I stress the word PROPERLY, along with sun protective clothing and smart sun habits (seeking shade for example) ALL have been proven to prevent skin cancer. Too many people don’t use sunscreen correctly and when they burn they are quick to say sunscreen failed them. The amount used and the frequency of application is so very important and correct use is the responsibility of the person using the products. Human error is to blame in most cases of sunburn - not product failure.


Now let’s tackle the question of safe ingredients. The FDA has asked for further studies to be done on 12 ingredients that are commonly found in some current chemical sunscreens. They seek safety data on to what extent your skin absorbs ingredients in sunscreen and whether absorbing sunscreen has any effect on your skin or body. The FDA still recognizes the importance of continued use of sunscreen at this time and commented “given the recognized public health benefits of sunscreen use, Americans should continue to use sunscreen and other sun protective measures as this important rulemaking effort moves forward.”


If you are wondering what can be used at this time that we know to be safe then stick to physical sunscreens. These have ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide and act like a reflector and bounces the sun’s rays away from your skin instead of letting the UV radiation come into the skin and try to absorb it like a chemical sunscreen. More testing will be done and will be reviewed by the FDA later this year and changes will be made by by the sunscreen companies to comply within a predetermined period.


But the takeaway message is fear not - sunscreen is here to stay!