Tags: Cancer | sunscreen | safety | good | bad | protections

3 out of 4 Sunscreens Overstate Protections, Report Says

3 out of 4 Sunscreens Overstate Protections, Report Says
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By    |   Friday, 07 July 2017 12:22 PM

With sunny days finally here and temperatures heating up, it’s important to remember to protect your skin from the sun’s deadly rays with sunscreen. But a new report suggests that may not be an easy task: 73 percent tested don’t work as well as advertised.

The report, by the Environmental Working group, found that nearly three-quarters of 880 sunscreens tested aren’t as protective as manufacturers claim. What’s more, many contain “worrisome” ingredients, the authors report.

Sonya Lunder, senior analyst for the EWG and lead author of the sunscreens guide, tells Newsmax Health that the most important thing when choosing a sunscreen is looking for one that offers both UVA and UVB protection.

“A poor quality sunscreen will keep you from getting burned, but won’t shield you from harmful UVA rays which can cause skin damage and cancer,” Lunder says. “EWG’s green-rated products offer strong UV protection, are free of hormone disruptors and other worrisome ingredients.”

Dermatologists strongly recommend using sunscreen to protect from the potential damage of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The sun casts two sets of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeply and UVB rays damage the outer layer of the skin, causing sunburn. Although functionally different, they are both linked to skin cancer. Fortunately, a good sunscreen helps protect against both.

A sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum” provides some protection from UVA rays. The sun protection factor (SPF) stands for the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays.

“If you’re standing on the equator at high noon and it would usually take your skin one minute without sunscreen to become red and irritated, SPF 15 means you can stand in that same sun exposure for 15 minutes,” explains Dr. Dawn Davis, a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic.

When it comes to choosing an SPF, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends at least SPF 30. An SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, so products with higher SPF levels don’t provide much better sun protection.

“People who buy high SPF products are more likely to get burned because they assume they’re getting better and longer-lasting protection,” Lunder says.

She adds that maximum protection occurs when sunscreen is reapplied every few hours – regardless of the SPF. She recommends and SPF between 30 and 50.

What about spray-on sunscreens? Researchers found that aerosol sunscreens offer less protection than their traditional counterparts. A 2015 study found that people who used spray-on sunscreens applied them less than those using creams.

Davis says aerosols aren’t all bad if you are conscientious about their application and “apply homogeneously. And, of course, don’t inhale the sunscreen, or it can be irritating.”

Many products use chemicals to create a barrier on the surface of the skin to block UV rays. For those with skin allergies or sensitive skin it’s best to look for a sunscreen that has zinc oxide or titanium oxide which tend to be hypoallergenic.

EWG representatives say to watch out for two potentially harmful ingredients: oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.

Oxybenzone “is a hormone disruptor that mimics body hormones and affects reproductive tract and other hormones,” says Lunder. Retinyl Palmitate, a form of vitamin A, has been linked to the development of skin tumors under direct UV light in some studies.

Lunder tells Newsmax Health that it’s especially important to avoid using sunscreens with these ingredients on infants and toddlers.

The EWG ranks sunscreens on a scale from one to 10, with one being the safest and 10 being the most dangerous in terms of toxicity. They found that 46 sunscreens marketed to children have a rating of seven to 10.

  • The organization gave the following 14 sunscreens low rankings:
  • Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
  • Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray Kids, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Water Babies, SPF 70+
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Kids, SPF 55
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Water Babies, SPF 55
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Water Babies Foaming Lotion, SPF 70
  • CVS Health Children’s Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
  • Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  • Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Sticks, SPF 55

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Health experts say sunscreen offers your best protection from the sun's damaging rays. But a new consumer report finds that 73 percent of products tested don't work as well as advertised. Here's what you need to know.
sunscreen, safety, good, bad, protections
Friday, 07 July 2017 12:22 PM
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