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Sunscreen safety


Is sunscreen safe to use this summer?

For our entire lives, we were told to wear sunscreen to protect ourselves from the sun. A recent study published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that certain ingredients in sunscreen were left in the bloodstream. Are these chemicals dangerous? Should we stop using sunscreen? Christina Cruz, MD spoke on New England Cable News to clear up some of the public’s concerns.

What are your thoughts on the study?

Dr. Cruz: People are worried about using sunscreen which for so long we have been encouraged to use. This study focused on ingredients found in chemical sunscreens, and it is the first to establish that the four active ingredients in chemical sunscreens were absorbed in the bloodstream. Follow-up studies need to determine if there is an actual health risk.

What are the differences between chemical and physical sunscreens?

  • Chemical sunscreens absorb sun rays, while physical sunscreens deflect them
  • Chemical sunscreens blend more easily and don’t leave a white cast on skin, while physical sunscreens are better for sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
  • The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule, while the active ingredients in physical sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium oxide
  • It is unclear if the ingredients in chemical sunscreens are a health risk, but zinc oxide and titanium oxide have been studied extensively and proven to be relatively safe

What are other ways people can protect themselves from the sun?

Dr. Cruz: Using hats and sunglasses are always a great option. Also, keep in mind that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am–2 pm. A rule of thumb is if your shadow is shorter than you, seek shade. You can do this by wearing sunscreen or protective clothing, since a lot of lines are coming out with UV protective clothing.