The business of sunscreen

Over the past 30 years the incidence of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has increased by around 160%. Skin cancer diagnoses have also increased, partly as a result of the increased awareness and increases in checking. This has resulted in people flocking to buy the latest and greatest sunscreens all promising higher and higher Sun Protection Factors, SPF.

But do these products do what they say and is the slathering on of copious amounts of sunblock actually a healthier option than avoiding extended periods in the sun or simply covering up?

According the [US] Environmental Working Group (see their report) the majority of products available do not do what they claim. Various claims of 'broad spectrum', UVA and UVA rays, protection, are concerning scientists who refute these claims.

UVA penetrates the skin and causes wrinkles and other skin damage; UVB produces sunburn. Until recently, it was thought that only UVB caused cancer; now scientists suspect that UVA does, too.

The [US] Food and Drug Administration has specified that sunscreens remain topical and are not to be absorbed by the skin, yet UVA blocker oxybenzone is commonly found in the urine of people who use sunscreens.

Zinc and titanium blockers remains the most effective sun blocks though may contain nanoparticles which have unknown health impacts.

Transparent blockers are more translucent but may also contain nano particles which supposed do not enter the skin, but it beggars belief that nanoparticles do not go where they want to.

It may well be that the use of sunscreen actually increases the risk of cancer by firstly providing a false sense of security so sunscreened people spend far longer in the sun than they otherwise would, and that the various chemicals used in sunscreens, that are not required to have any extensive health testing done, may be carcinogenic. (See Masquerade - 10 Harmful chemicals in cosmetics)

Excerpted from the original article from Mother Jones, Sunscreen's Shady Business

For further reading see also Tests on sunscreen nanoparticles and Effect on immune system 28/2/08 and Nano sunblock safety under scrutiny on the Australian ABC website.

See also Nanotech risk put on insurance agenda  and Nanotechnology ethics on the table

Related to - Health news | General Health issues | Chemicals

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