Health & Wellness

Is it Safe to Use Sunscreen this Summer?

There's new concern about the chemicals in most sunscreens, but they are still critical to preventing skin cancer.


Summer means trips to the pool, beach or anywhere else outdoors, but there are new questions about the safety of sunscreen use. Sunscreen has been long been thought of as one of the best ways for children and adults to prevent skin cancer, but there are new concerns about chemicals in sunscreen that could be absorbed into the bloodstream.

According to the New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to offer guidance regarding the safety of sunscreen later this year. In the meantime, Dr. Aaron Carrol, a pediatrician at Indiana University, writes that it is probably best to keep using sunscreen as you normally would. Of course, you should also follow the basic sun safety steps of limiting your exposure to UV light, and covering up as much as possible.

However, as you use sunscreen, be mindful of what you are putting on (and in) your body. A recent study published in JAMA found that adults who used sunscreen regularly for four days all showed accumulation avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule (four common components of sunscreen) in their bloodstream . Dr. Carrol points out that this is not inherent evidence that sunscreen is dangerous, and it is quite possible that the amounts absorbed are safe.

But there is another damaging effect of sunscreen--the effect on marine life when it washes off in the ocean. Experts have suggested shifting to "reef-friendly" products, but many also agree that more research is necessary to know the full effect these products on coral reefs and other marine life.

You can click here to read more about reef-friendly sunscreen products .

Chemicals in sunscreen can be absorbed into the bloodstream, and can also be damaging to coral and other marine life.

As for personal health, the F.D.A is working on a proposed rule that would mark sunscreens that use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as "generally regarded as safe and effective," and other sunscreens as "not generally regarded as safe and effective."

You can offer your public comment to the F.D.A as they craft guidance for U.S. consumers by clicking here .

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