Tags: Cancer | sunscreen | vitamin | a | skin | cancer | harmful

Never Buy Sunscreen With This Ingredient

By    |   Friday, 19 June 2015 09:35 AM

Wearing sunscreen — along with a hat and protective clothing — can protect you from skin damage, cancer, and wrinkling. But some sun-protection products are less effective than you’d think and may do more harm than good.

That’s the latest word from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), which has issued a new analysis that found that as many as one in five sunscreens on the market contain a form of vitamin A, known as retinyl palmitate, that may speed development of skin cancer tumors.

EWG’s 2015 Guide to Sunscreens checked 1,700 sun-protection products and found the additive in 19 percent of sunscreens, 17 percent of moisturizers with SPF, and 13 percent of lip products.

It also found 80 percent of sunscreens on the market don’t work as effectively as makers claim or contain other potentially harmful ingredients, such as oxybenzone and methylisothiazolinone, as well as retinyl palmitate.

Oxybenzone can penetrate the skin and disrupt the hormone system. Methylisothiazolinone, or MI, is a preservative that is a potent allergen and deemed unsafe in Europe.

But the EWG researchers said the most worrisome ingredient is vitamin A because studies have found adding it to the skin may heighten sun sensitivity and promote skin cancer tumors.

“Retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant that combats skin aging. But studies by federal government scientists indicate that it may trigger development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in the presence of sunlight,” the EWG report notes.

“Other governments warn that cosmetics may expose people to unsafe amounts of vitamin A. They recommend against using vitamin-A-laden cosmetics on the lips and over large portions of the body. EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions that contain vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, and retinol.”

Health officials in Germany and Norway have cautioned that retinyl palmitate and other vitamin A ingredients in cosmetics could be toxic to some individuals. In addition, they can cause excess skin growth, known as hyperplasia, and form free radicals that damage DNA when exposed to sunlight.

Research by the National Toxicology Program — the inter-agency federal research group that tested retinyl palmitate, in concert with the federal Food and Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research — has raised significant alarms, according to an EWG analysis.

It concluded: “Government scientists had produced evidence that the development of skin tumors dramatically accelerated, compared to control groups, when lab animals were coated with a cream laced with vitamin A and then exposed to the equivalent of nine minutes of maximum intensity sunlight every day for a year.

“Despite this strong scientific evidence, the FDA has delayed taking action to restrict retinyl palmitate in sunscreens. Instead, it has ordered more studies … While it is important that scientists thoroughly explore causes of sunlight-stimulated illness, the FDA’s decision to delay action in favor of more studies has almost certainly postponed regulatory action.”

Other research has linked too much vitamin A to liver damage, brittle nails, hair loss, osteoporosis, hip fractures in seniors, and skeletal abnormalities in an unborn child. Norwegian health authorities have warned women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as older women at risk for osteoporosis, to avoid products with vitamin A.

The new EWG analysis identified several dozen sun-protection products earned a spot on the EWG report’s “Hall of Shame” because they don’t deliver on their promises and/or contain potentially risky chemicals. Another 217 products earned the organization’s highest ratings for safety and effectiveness.

Best sunscreens: Among the products deemed best were those made by John Masters Organics, Seventh Generation, Adorable Baby, Alba Botanica, Allure, Blue Lizard, Bull Frog, Burt's Bees, Earth's Best, Nature's Gate, Raw Elements USA, Tropical Sands, True Natural, and Vanicream.

Worst sunscreens:
Among the sunscreen sprays, lotions, and baby products rated worst were those manufactured by Neutrogena, Banana Boat, Coppertone, NO-AD, and Ocean Potion.
In addition to adding potentially unsafe additives to their sunscreens, some manufacturers falsely claim their products are superior because they have high SPF levels — such as SPF 70 or even SPF 100+ — according the EWG report .

The FDA says there’s no protective benefit in products with more than SPF 50 and higher ratings give users a false sense of protection. In addition, SPF refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin — not UVA rays, which accelerate skin aging, suppress the immune system, and can cause skin cancer.

About 3.5 million people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer this year, and nearly 74,000 of these cases will be melanoma — three times as many cases as in the 1970s, federal health statistics show.

EWG scientists and other health experts offer the following tips for choosing a sunscreen and reducing sun exposure:
  • SPF considerations. Buy sunscreens with a broad spectrum SPF (sun protection factor) level of between 15 and 50. Be sure to follow instructions on how to apply and reapply.
  • Read labels. Choose products with natural ingredients that block UVA and UVB rays, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
  • Limit sun exposure. Avoid spending long hours in the sun. Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon. Bring an umbrella to the beach. Find a tree to picnic under. Seek shade outdoors, wherever possible. Wear clothing and a hat to cover exposed skin.

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Sunscreen can protect you from skin damage, cancer, and wrinkling. But some sun-protection products are less effective than you’d think and may do more harm than good, a new analysis shows.
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Friday, 19 June 2015 09:35 AM
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