Health News

Report: Sunscreen claims can be smokescreens; buyer beware

DUNEDIN -- The Environmental Working Group says 80 percent of the 1,700 sunscreens reviewed in its annual Sunscreen Guide have given them cause for concern.

EWG says more than 30 products made their Sunscreen Hall of Shame.

EWG says those products contain the following:-- Spray: can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely

-- SPF values about 50 try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. SPF tops out at 30 to 50

-- Oxybenzone: can disrupt the hormone system -- Retinyl palmitate: may trigger damage, possibly cancer.

Dr. Kathleen Soe, with Virginia Street Dermatology in Dunedin, agrees with the concerns regarding spray sunscreen.

"I also have a personal concern and have never recommended sprays because I really don’t feel that a person gets great coverage and sun protection from a spray the way you do with more of a cream or a lotion," she said.

Soe also shares the EWG's concerns over sunscreens billing themselves as having SPFs of higher than 50.

"It’s actually very misleading to the public," she said. "Really an SPF 30-40 is really the most that you need."

Soe said she recommends physical-blocking sunscreens like titanium and zinc oxide. "These are mineral sunscreens so they're not the chemicals that are going to be run down," she said.

The President of the American Academy of Dermatology responded to EWG’s report: “The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) wants to emphasize to consumers that sunscreen remains a safe, effective form of sun protection. As one component of a daily sun-protection strategy, sunscreen is an important tool in the fight against skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” said Academy President, Dr. Mark Lebwohl.

“Current scientific data does not support claims that sunscreen ingredients are toxic or a hazard to human health. Rather, evidence supports the benefits of applying sunscreen to minimize short- and long-term damage to the skin from UV radiation.”