So You Get Burned Twice
The 2015 sunscreen guide produced by the Environmental Working Group reports that 80 percent of the products claiming to provide SPF protection from the sun fail to do so, and in fact provide "inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients" such as oxybenzone, a possible hormone disrupter, and vitamin A, which can actually increase the skin's sensitivity to sun exposure. The EWG analyzed and has rated over 1,700 sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers, and comes down especially hard on Neutrogena products, as well as products boasting SPF levels of 100 or more, given that the FDA has found no increase in sun protection beyond the SPF 50 level. Only 14 percent of men and 30 percent of women regularly put on sunscreen when spending more than an hour in sunlight in any case.
People Are Catching on Fire
Energizer Holdings, maker of Banana Boat has issued a voluntary recall of its spray on products after there were reports of five people catching fire after using them. To date, four burn cases were reported in the US; one was reported in Canada. The recall includes UltraMist Sport, UltraMist Ultra Defense and UltraMist Kids. More than 20 million units have been sold since the product launched in 2010. The company issued a statement explaining that there is a problem with the spray valve which over applies the product making it take longer to dry and raising its flammability risk if the person is near an open flame. Consumers who purchased the products are being told not to use them and to call 1-800-SAFESUN for more information. The company has notified the Food and Drug Administration.
Zinc Oxide’s the Culprit
Zinc oxide, an ingredient in sunscreen, may increase the risk of skin cancer finds research from Missouri U of Science and Technology. When exposed to sunlight, zinc oxide undergoes a chemical reaction that releases free radicals that can damage DNA in cells and promote the incidence of skin cancer. Researcher Dr. Yinfa Ma bathed human lung cells to a solution of zinc oxide and exposed them to various types of light over a period of time. A control group, minus zinc oxide, was exposed to the same conditions. The zinc oxide-exposed cells deteriorated more rapidly than those in the control group. The research is in the early stages and Ma cautions against drawing conclusions from his study. He also advises people to wear sunscreen stating that it’s “better than no protection at all.”
False Claims Banned
The Food and Drug Administration unveiled new rules about sunscreen claims, banning for example, manufacturers from saying their products are water- or sweatproof. The rules, which go into effect next year, also say that sunscreens must protect against both UVB and UVA rays to earn the designation of “broad spectrum” protection. In addition, only sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher can say that they help prevent sunburn and reduce the risks of skin cancer and premature aging. The new rules, which will standardize the UVA testing manufacturers must conduct on their products, have been under consideration since 1978 and are being lauded by dermatologists. “Now, we’ll be able to tell patients which sunscreens to get,” says Dr. Henry W. Lim, American Academy of Dermatology.
Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Think your beach umbrella protects you from the sun’s rays? A U of Valencia study, which found that 34 percent of UV radiation filters through under beach umbrellas, cautions you to think again. While canvas has a high capacity to absorb radiation, it can’t prevent diffuse radiation from penetrating through. Researchers hope this study can shed light on the epidemiology of some skin cancers as well as photoaging, cataracts, and other ailments caused by sun exposure. While scientists know that some sun exposure is beneficial, especially for the production of Vitamin D, experts recommend using umbrellas, protective clothing, hats with wide brims, sunglasses and sunscreen to lessen the damage from sun exposure. Try to avoid the sun between noon and 4 pm when it’s most damaging.