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08/28/2009 - News

Is Your Sunscreen Really Protecting You From UV Rays?

By: June Chen, MD


The watchdog organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) has issued its third annual report on the effectiveness of sunscreen. According to EWG’s 2009 study, sunscreen products are improving, but three of five brand-name sunscreen products either contain hazardous chemicals or do not adequately protect the skin from sun damage. 

In their summary of findings, EWG reported that the number of sunscreens that block harmful UVA radiation more than doubled between summer 2009 and 2009. Although most sunscreens protect from UVB, or sunburn radiation, fewer brands contain ingredients that block UVA radiation, which may be even more harmful. Unfortunately, although the number of sunscreen products with UVA filters has increased, EWG reports that 1 in 9 of these products confers dangerously low levels of UVA protection.
EWG also reports that there has only been a 19% drop in the use of oxybenzone, an active ingredient in many sunscreens that has been shown to disrupt hormones and release reactive oxygen species that could contribute to skin cancer. Up to 9% of oxybenzone applied to the skin absorbs into the tissues and blood vessels below the skin surface, so EWG recommends that consumers avoid oxybenzone-containing sunscreens.
Alarmingly, only 5% of the 1,608 sunscreen products analyzed met EWG’s criteria for both safety and effectiveness. To view a complete summary of findings for EWG’s 2009 Sunscreen Investigation, click here.


Environmental Working Group’s 2009 Sunscreen Investigation.

Created on: 07/13/2009
Reviewed on: 08/28/2009

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