What you need to know about chemicals in your sunscreen

What you need to know about chemicals in your sunscreen

August 2, 2022 0 By administrator

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News stories have recently raised alarms about sunscreens. Last summer, several spray sunscreens were recalled after benzene, a known carcinogen, was detected in them. Other research has shown that some sunscreen ingredients can seep through skin into your bloodstream, and the Food and Drug Administration has asked manufacturers for more data on their safety. And Hawaii has banned certain ingredients because of concerns that they may harm ocean reefs.

With all that, you may be asking yourself whether sunscreen is still worth it.

The short answer: Absolutely. While those issues raise real concerns, at this point the risks are more theoretical than proved. Regular sunscreen use, on the other hand, clearly prevents skin cancers and saves lives. Some research suggests that it can lower the risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, by about 50 percent.

In addition, there are smart choices you can make to ensure that the sunscreens you choose for yourself and your family are safe and effective, and maybe better for the environment.

Why your sunscreen isn’t working

To help in that effort, Consumer Reports tests dozens of sunscreens, iden­tifying those that work best and those that don’t protect you as well. We’ve also tested every spray sunscreen in our ratings for benzene: All were free of the harmful chemical. (Read “Benzene, a Known Carcinogen, Has Been Found in Some Spray Sunscreens, Deodorants, and Other Products” for more on benzene in aerosol personal care products.) We also delved into the research and talked with experts to under­stand the potential health and environmental health risks posed by some sunscreen ingredients. Here are answers to some important questions.

Recent research has led to some concerns about chemical sunscreens — those that use one or more of a dozen chemical ingredients approved for use in the United States to filter the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.

In 2019, the FDA announced that it wanted more information on the safety of those ingredients, including whether they are absorbed systemically — through the skin into the bloodstream. That’s in part because Americans are now using a lot more sunscreen than in the past, and because today’s products contain more combinations and higher concentrations of the ingredients.

Soon after, FDA scientists published studies showing that six common chemical ingredients — avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene and oxybenzone — do indeed get into the bloodstream.

The FDA stresses that absorption doesn’t mean these ingredients are unsafe. But the amounts absorbed were higher than the levels the FDA says would exempt them from safety testing, so more research is needed.

“The key question is whether that systemic absorption actually causes harm,” says Kathleen Suozzi, assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School…

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