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HEALTH: Let real science be your sunscreen guide

Letter by Farah Ahmed, Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm with No Comments »
June 24, 2013 3:55 pm

Re: “Keep rays at bay: For more natural approach to sun protection, these options come out on top” (thenewstribune.com, 6-12).

The article relies on seemingly sound science to raise questions about the safety of sunscreens.

The National Institutes of Health identifies solar UV radiation as a “known human carcinogen.” A single bad burn as a child can increase the skin’s susceptibility to skin cancer throughout life.

What does the real science say? Sunscreens are safe and effective. The article questioned the safety of a key sunscreen ingredient – oxybenzone – and an important skin-conditioning compound – retinyl palmitate (or vitamin A).

Oxybenzone, an FDA-approved sunscreen ingredient, provides broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. FDA, Health Canada and the European Union Cosmetic Ingredient Authority have endorsed its safety. Retinyl palmitate has been used safely in sunscreen products for decades.

Real science is identified by many factors, including publication in expert peer-reviewed journals. EWG’s report creates a story that just does not exist. The scary side effect is that people avoid using sunscreen.

Please join us, the American Academy of Dermatology, the Skin Cancer Foundation, FDA, EPA, and the World Health Organization, which agree that sunscreens, including those containing oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, should be used as part of an overall sun-safe regimen.

(Ahmed is chair of the Sunscreen Committee of the Personal Care Products Council.)

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