Group urges caution with sunscreens

May 23, 2012

A watchdog organization has released a report indicating more than 50 percent of tested sunscreens contain ingredients that have the potential to cause cell damage and skin cancer.

Washington - A watchdog organization has released a report indicating more than 50 percent of tested sunscreens contain ingredients that have the potential to cause cell damage and skin cancer.

The Environmental Working Group suggested in its 2012 Sunscreen Guide that 56 percent of beach and sport sunscreens contain oxybenzone. The group claims this chemical has been potentially linked to cell damage that can cause skin cancer, CNN reports.

To land on the EWG safe list, sunscreens must have an SPF factor of 50 or less, must protect against UVA and UVB rays, and cannot contain oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate. The group classified 25 percent of 800 tested sunscreens as effective and safe for skin protection.

The American Academy of Dermatology announced in a news release that oxybenzone is safe and provides effective broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation.


“Available peer-reviewed scientific literature and regulatory assessments from national and international bodies do not support a link between oxybenzone in sunscreen and hormonal alterations, or other significant health issues in humans,” said AAD President Daniel M. Siegel, M.D.

The EWG further stated that data from an FDA study indicate retinyl palmitate could increase the development of skin lesions and tumors when tested in lab mice. Results in human tests, however, were inconclusive. The EWG “recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with vitamin A.”

The AAD countered that retinyl palmitate is not an active drug ingredient and that “unlike more potent prescription forms of vitamin A, there is no evidence to suggest that use of sunscreen with retinyl palmitate poses comparable risks.”

Go back to the Dermatology Times eNews newsletter.