Approximately one third of sunscreens provide less than half of the SPF claimed

Medscape (5/19, Doheny) reported, “About a third of sunscreens tested by experts…provide less than half the SPF protection claimed on the label,” according to Consumer Reports’ annual sunscreen report. According to the article, the Food and Drug Administration does not routinely test sunscreen products’ SPF.

Dr. Bader recommends sunscreens that have a high concentration of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient(s). These are physical blockers, that reflect all of the suns rays (UVB and UVA).

Chemical blockers only work for specific wavelengths and break down, often within a few hours of sun exposure.

Advertisements

Tanning bed use for minors increases melanoma risk and death

A recent meta-analysis and data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey concluded that prohibiting tanning bed use for minors could potentially reduce the incidence of melanoma by 4.9% and the number of melanoma deaths by 4.7%.

It has been long known that tanning bed use increases the risk of cancer, but these findings are quite alarming. A number of States have already made changes that prohibit minors from using tanning beds. Hopefully, other States follow suit.

Fish oils may help protect against skin cancer

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking omega-3 oils helped patients ward off the harmful effects of sunshine.  This study suggests that taking omega-3 fish oils may have a protective effect against the development of skin cancer, although further studies are needed. 

Malignant Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Caucasian women (ages 25 to 29)

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, Malignant Melanoma is the most common cancer in white women ages 25 to 29 years and the second most common form of cancer in women 15 to 30 years of age. Interestingly, these are the ages that many women will go the beach to get tan or use tanning beds.  Despite all of the well-known risks of skin cancer, people still think that having a tan looks good and is healthy.

 

The new U.S. FDA guidelines for rating and labeling sunscreens

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United Stated. One should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF rating system only applies to the protection the sunscreen has against UVB and will still be used. Here are the changes in labeling:

  • The highest SPF rating will now be 50+. You will not see any sunscreens with a rating of 70 or higher.
  • Only products with an SPF of 15 or higher will be able to claim that they protect against sunburn, skin cancer, and photo-aging.
  • Manufacturers can no longer claim that their product is waterproof or sweat-proof. Products can labeled water-resistant.

Recommendations:

  • Apply sunscreen liberally–do not use too little.
  • Reapply sunscreen often–at least every few hours and immediately after swimming.
  • Try to use water-resistant sunscreens that work for 40 or 80 minutes (under the new labeling system)
  • Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two active ingredients that work well against all of the suns rays.
  • Use a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or greater.