Yes, sunscreens do prevent sunburns, but beyond that there is surprisingly little evidence to support its safety and efficacy. In 2007 the FDA stated that they are “not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer.” And now new research presented by government institutions shows data linking the common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A to accelerated development of skin tumors and lesions.
That can’t be true, right? While consumers think that sunscreen prevents cancer, actually it may do just the opposite.
Since the FDA has not officially set regulation manufacturers are not legally required to prove that their products meet advertising claims, such as “waterproof” or “SPF 50.” Moreover, FDA scientists say SPF claims above 50 cannot be reliably substantiated.
Some researchers have detected an increased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. No one knows the cause, but scientists speculate that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer and absorb more radiation overall, or that free radicals released as sunscreen chemicals break down in sunlight may play a role.
Consumer action groups are taking notice and have since filed at least nine class-action lawsuits against sunscreen makers, alleging false advertising. The FDA is continually pressed by senators, state attorney generals and consumer action groups to act now and set regulation. Several drafts and modifications have seen been made to new proposed regulation. But while the FDA continues to postpone regulation more consumers are mislead and potentially harmed.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Companies who are concerned with their consumers’ health and who take a natural and/or organic approach to personal care have created sunscreens that are not harmful or misleading and just as effective as the traditional chemical laden sunscreen. Below is a short list of some of the favorites all which contain the minerals zinc and titanium, and none contain oxybenzone or vitamin A.
Recommended Natural Sunscreens: