Tags: cancer | skin | sun | protection | prevention | sunscreen | products

Only 1 in 4 Sunscreens Are Safe and Effective

woman squeezing sunscreen into hand
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By    |   Thursday, 02 May 2024 06:20 PM EDT

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with more than 9,500 people diagnosed every day. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.

Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.  However, it is critical to use the best sun protection products to ensure safety and effective prevention, and according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that can be tricky and a case of buyer beware.

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The EWG assessed nearly 1,700 SPF products sold in the U.S. and found that three-quarters of them fall short of adequate sun protection. Many also contain harmful ingredients. The EWG's 2024 Guide to Sunscreens reveals the best and safest sunscreens for the whole family, including products for babies and children.

Emily Spilman, a program manager for Healthy Living Science at EWG, says that many of the products the group reviewed don’t offer balanced protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays. She said that some ingredients found in sunscreens have both human and environmental concerns but are still widely found in hundreds of products.

“It’s outrageous that shoppers may be slathering these potentially harmful chemicals on their skin every day without the reassurance of those safety tests,” said Spilman.

The EWG launched its first Guide to Sunscreens in 2007 and has consistently asked the Food and Drug Administration to request more safety information from sunscreen manufacturers to bring American products up to global standards.

Most top-rated sunscreens identified by EWG contain zinc oxide, titanium oxide or both. These ingredients offer excellent sun protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

“We now have 51 EWG Verified® sunscreens, ” says Spilman. You can find that list here. These are products that the EWG selected in 2023 as the gold standard for sunscreen safety.

Once you find the right product, it’s also important to apply the correct sunscreen properly, says Dr. Anat Lebow, of Lebow Dermatology  in New York. “To protect your skin, remember to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours especially after sweating, swimming, or toweling off.” Experts recommend choosing a mineral sunscreen with a broad-spectrum label and an SPF between 30 and 50.

Sunscreen is only one tool in the sun safety toolbox, say EWG experts. Proper sun protection includes protective clothing, like a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and shade.

Here are more tips for choosing better sunscreens and staying safe in the sun:

  • Avoid products with oxybenzone, which is absorbed through the skin in large amounts and can affect hormone levels.
  • Stay away from vitamin A in sunscreens. Government studies link the use of retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, to the formation of skin tumors and lesions when it’s applied to sun-exposed skin.
  • Steer clear of sunscreens with SPF values above 50, which may not give increased UVA protection and can fool people into thinking they’re safe from sun damage.
  • Avoid sprays. These popular products make it difficult to apply an adequate and even coating on skin, especially in windy conditions. They also pose inhalation concerns.
  • Avoid intense sun exposure during peak hours for sun exposure, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Check products against EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens and avoid those with harmful additives.

Shoppers on the go can download EWG’s Healthy Living App to get ratings and safety information on sunscreens and other personal care products. EWG’s sunscreen label decoder can also help consumers looking for safer sunscreens.

© 2024 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.


Health-News
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with more than 9,500 people diagnosed every day. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of...
cancer, skin, sun, protection, prevention, sunscreen, products, effective, environmental working group
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2024-20-02
Thursday, 02 May 2024 06:20 PM
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