Sunscreen not as safe as we think!

If you’re like most people, you slap on plenty of spray or lotion,

before stepping out into the blazing-hot sun, hoping to protect yourself from the cancer-causing UV rays that bombard us when we go outside.

And for many among us, this isn’t simply a case of slathering on sunscreen when we head to the beach or to an outdoor, all-day picnic. We need the stuff daily for our day at work, school, or simple, outdoor recreation.

But according to new research from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the chemicals in our sunscreen don’t merely sit on top of our skin until we wash it off. Instead, many of the active ingredients enter our bloodstream, at levels far in excess of what was previously believed.

A recent publication reported that after applying spray, lotion and cream, there is a “systemic absorption of sunscreen active ingredients”, well beyond the FDA’s recommended limits. And while it remains unclear what the effect of this seepage into our bloodstream is, the data supports a need for further FDA investigation, to determine exactly what the health impact of these findings are.

Theresa Michele, director of the FDA division of non-prescription drug products, and a co-author of the study, said: “Everyone had always thought that because these are intended to work on the surface of the skin that they wouldn’t be absorbed, but they are.”

The data reveals how, in our ongoing fight against skin cancer, the most-common malignancy in the US, which affects an estimated 3.3 million people per year, we have applied vast amounts of sunscreen. It is considered to be an over-the-counter medication in the US, without having been tested, to see what the health impact could be.

In a statement about the study, JAMA Dermatology editor-in-chief Kanade Shinkai, and former FDA Chairman Robert Califf, noted:

“Sunscreens have not been subjected to standard drug safety testing, and clinicians and consumers lack data on systemic drug levels, despite decades of widespread use.

“Furthermore, appropriately-designed trials have not yet been conducted to understand the optimal sunscreen dose needed to achieve a balance of risk and benefit, when used to prevent skin cancer and melanoma.”

Researchers looked into the concentration of four active ingredients in 24 participants’ bloodstreams, including avobenzone, ecamsule, octocrylene and oxybenzone. Participants were told to apply one of three different types of sunscreen – spray, lotion or cream – four times a day for four days, on exposed skin that was uncovered by a swimsuit, as per recommended usage.

Oxybenzone, in particular, reached the plasma concentration threshold a mere two hours after a single application. What makes this alarming is that the lingering presence of the sun-filtering molecules in the bloodstream remains a mystery, in terms of what, if anything, this means for our bodies.

Continuing, Shinkai and Califf explained: “The study findings raise many important questions about sunscreen and the process by which the sunscreen industry, clinicians, speciality organisations, and regulatory agencies evaluate the benefits and risks of this topical OTC medication.

“First and foremost, it is essential to determine whether systemic absorption of sunscreen poses risks to human health. Second, the effects of different sunscreen formulations, clinical characteristics (ie skin type, age, presence of skin diseases that disrupt the skin barrier), physical activity level, and exposure to sun and water, on systemic sunscreen levels, require further study.”


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Posted by on Aug 1 2019. Filed under Health & Beauty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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