New FDA research data reveal that a type of Vitamin A (found on the label as “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol”), which is in 41% of sunscreens, may actually increase the growth of cancerous skin tumors and lesions. While vitamin A is used in many skin products for its antioxidant properties to slow skin aging, when in the sun it may have photocarcinogenic properties that can damage the skin more than protect it. The FDA’s one year study found that lab animals coated in a cream with Vitamin A and exposed to sunlight daily developed skin tumors and lesions 21% sooner than the control animals with no vitamin A. While the data are only preliminary, the FDA’s full assessment will be issued in October.
The Environmental Working Group just released their fourth annual Sunscreen Guide, with recommendations for only 39 of the 500 sunscreen products reviewed. The EWG found many products misleading in their claims, lacking in adequate protection from all types of ultraviolet radiation, and containing many potentially hazardous chemicals. Because the FDA still has not issued any sunscreen industry regulations, which they began drafting 32 years ago, consumers are left to discover the safest products on their own.
EWG Senior Vice President For Research Jane Houlihan said, “Many sunscreens available in the U.S. may be the equivalent of modern-day snake oil, plying customers with claims of broad-spectrum protection but not providing it, while exposing people to potentially hazardous chemicals that can penetrate the skin into the body.”
Here are some of the dangerous truths about sunscreen, including the best and worst products.
Check out the EWG’s 2010 Sunscreen Guide for more info