The Hidden Dangers Of Sunscreen & What The FDA Is Doing To Protect You

by Afrodet Zuri · June 29, 2011

Did you know that your sunscreen is not protecting you from the harmful effects of the sun?! There is no such thing as sweatproof or waterproof! Up until now the FDA has allowed manufacturers to release sunscreen to the market with extremely poor results when measured for anti-aging and skin cancer prevention. The FDA is finally stepping in to change the way we buy sunscreen.

The FDA has passed new regulations that will help us look younger even longer! Starting next summer, if sunscreens don't protect against both ultraviolet B rays and ultraviolet A rays, or the sun protection factor is below 15, then the label must carry a warning: "This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."

The Associated Press reports that the new regulations require that sunscreens be tested for the ability to block the more dangerous ultraviolet A rays, which can even penetrate glass and pose the greatest risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Currently, the FDA only requires testing for ultraviolet B rays, the perpetrators of sunburn. [via]

New Rules:

The FDA will prohibit sunscreen marketing claims like "waterproof" and "sweatproof," which the agency said "are exaggerations of performance."

The FDA also proposes capping the highest SPF value at 50, unless companies can provide results of further testing that support a higher number.

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself Now

Look for a sun protection factor, or SPF of 15 and above that also says "broad spectrum", the term used to describe a product that effectively blocks both types of damaging rays.

For more tips on what sunscreens to buy check out Barbara Boughton's blog, she is the co-author of the new consumer health book: Reduce Your Cancer Risk: Twelve Steps to a Healthier Life (2010), co-published by Demos Health and the American Cancer Society.