We Are Sunshine

Report: Does SPF Cause Cancer?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The dermatology and pharmaceutical industry’s defense of potentially carcinogenic compounds in most over-the-counter sunscreen lotions contradicts the arguments the same groups make to suggest that UV exposure is harmful — one more indication that

Men’s Health and reported this week in a story, “Does Sunscreen Cause Cancer?” that increased attention to potentially harmful sunscreen chemicals has spawned from another delay in the implementation of new U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules for sunscreen marketing.

“Research suggests retinyl palmitate — a form of vitamin A that fights skin aging — interacts with UVA rays to induce skin cancer in mice. Another concern is sun-blocking oxybenzone. In animal studies, it disrupts hormone balances, leading to weight gain and reproductive health problems. Oxybenzone can leach through your skin — in fact, it’s in the bloodstreams of 97 percent of Americans,” the Men’s Health article reports. “However, no human research supports these harmful health effects, says Steven Wang, M.D., a dermatologist and researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Last year, he published a review paper delving into the evidence, and the investigation convinced him these compounds are safe.”

Dermatology’s arguments claiming that sun exposure is harmful is based on animal models — mice bred without immune systems — and survey question studies (epidemiology) which doesn’t explore causation, only correlation. To condemn sun, they say the studies on immune-deprived mice are all they need. But to attack sunscreen they say that’s not enough. So which is it?

To read the Men’s Health story story click here.