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SUNSCREEN: Protection or harm?

<p>It’s hot, it’s humid and we’re ready to hit the beach.</p>

It’s hot, it’s humid and we’re ready to hit the beach.


Those who are diligent about sun protection are ready to slather on the sunscreen — but new information about sunscreen chemicals and vitamin D have left many confused about whether we should put on more sunscreen or do away with it.


On May 24, the Environmental Working Group released its fourth annual Sunscreen Guide, citing common ingredients oxybenzone (found in 60 percent of sunscreens) and vitamin A (or retinyl palmitate, found in 41 percent of sunscreens) as health hazards.?The EWG guide also attests that some SPF ratings on sunscreens aren’t to be trusted and indicates that overuse of sunscreen could be responsible for low vitamin D levels.


The most disturbing information in the report concerns vitamin A, which the EWG says caused mice to develop skin cancers or tumors faster when exposed to UV radiation.



Dr. Vincent DeLeo, chairman of dermatology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, said findings like this should be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, the EWG is a third party interpreting data found by the Food and Drug Administration, and possible carcinogenic effects in mice don’t guarantee the same in humans.


Much of the information is difficult to confirm until a report is issued by the FDA itself, which dermatologist Matthew Zook said should be sometime in the fall.


Zook said that until more definitive data comes out, the most important thing is to protect your skin from the sun in a way with which you’re comfortable.


“My take on it at this point is that the right product for a particular person to use really comes down to personal preference,” he said.

 
 
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