Sunscreen ingredients are much smaller risk than skin cancer

Sunscreens are still safe and should be used. If you are concerned about ingredients, use a sunscreen that is mineral based, with active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA,  has prompted worries about sunscreen ingredients that can be absorbed into the bloodstream, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays.

Indeed, the risks of skin cancer and other effects of overexposure to the sun far outweigh potential problems from absorbing sunscreen ingredients.

“The concern of certain chemicals and their ability to enter the bloodstream through skin contact has raised concern,” said Melody Presley, APRN, nurse practitioner with Norton Community Medical Associates – Taylorsville. “However, until further studies can be conducted, sunscreens are still safe to use and should be used. If you are concerned about the ingredients, try to find sunscreen that is mineral based.”

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The FDA earlier this year said sunscreens that are mineral based — using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide — are safe and effective.

In a preliminary study completed by JAMA, which included applying sunscreens in various forms four times per day. The JAMA study found high absorption of chemical sunscreen ingredients avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule.

What to look for in a quality sunscreen

  • The sunscreen should read broad spectrum somewhere on the label. This will ensure that it protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Look for bottles that are 15 to 50 SPF (sun protection factor). Anything over 50 SPF has not yet been proven to protect skin any more than a product in the 15 to 50 SPF range.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied every 80 minutes and applied again when getting out of the water. Every bottle of sunscreen should list an expiration date; this should be closely followed, as some sunscreens lose effectiveness.
  • Cream sunscreen should be used on the face. If you do not have cream, spray sunscreen can be sprayed in the palm of the hand and applied to the face. Mineral-based, cream sunscreens are best to avoid irritating the eyes. One tip for women is to use a foundation or facial moisturizer that has an SPF.
  • The proper amount is around one ounce of sunscreen for full body protection, depending on body size and clothing.
  • UV protectant hats and sunglasses, as well as shirts, can also be purchased for extra protection.

Presley encourages that everyone should protect their skin, no matter their age, race, skin tone, or gender as well as if they already have skin sun damage.


Norton Community Medical Associates – Taylorsville

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