June 13, 2012

Three Quarters of Sunscreens Not Safe

Even with the FDA regulations and research on sunscreens, can we trust the products? Studies for the market of sunscreens for 2012 indicate that only one quarter of the products on the market is safe. Another area will also be scrutinized over the next year. Some are already making their accusations but at this time, there seems to be only speculations and no scientific proof. If proven, then everyone will know for sure.

This speculation has to do with nano-sized particles of zinc oxide in sunscreens. This will be researched over this summer and hopefully we will have an answer before next summer. So for now everyone is promoting their headlines, but when you get to the reading, they do say “may” cause cancer. There also is concern about titanium dioxide.

Yes, there are people on both sides of any issue and here we have the Environmental Working Group on one side, and some, but not all dermatologists on the other side. Both sides do agree that people should use sunscreens. The disagreement is about which works best, how often to apply, and safety of chemicals used in the product. The FDA has now come forward to eliminate some of the ambiguous terms manufacturers have been using. The words waterproof, sweatproof, and sunblock are now not allowed, but you may see "water-resistant," "sweat-resistant," and just plain "sunscreen". I wish this would be enforced, as there is still much of this on local shelves. I have looked and reported this to store managers, but it is not taken off the shelves. The FDA does need to enforce what they mandate.

The good outcome of FDA finally issuing some rules is that now they can be revised to make sunscreens more effective. EWG has been a leader in getting manufacturers to improve products and for the last three years there has been improvements; however, there is more to be accomplished when three quarters of the sunscreens on the market still are of poor quality and do not meet the needs of people or often are not even meeting standards. Until some heavy fines are levied against manufacturers for mislabeling and false advertising, we will probably continue to see inferior products on store shelves. Some heavy fines should also be levied against store chains and other outlets that bring out what remains from prior years inventory for sale.

Read about sunscreens here is this Medscape article and here for the WebMD discussion. Although I can't recommend it, for those that need to be positive about what they are purchasing, check out EWG's website here.

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