Archive for May, 2012

Is Your Sunscreen Safe

May 16th, 2012

Twenty-five percent of 800 tested sunscreens are effective at protecting your skin without the use of potentially harmful ingredients, according to the 2012 Sunscreen Guide released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group.

To make the watchdog group’s safe list, sunscreens must be free of oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A), not have SPF above 50 and protect against UVA and UVB sunrays. Although The American Academy of Dermatology says oxybenzone is safe. “Oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides effective broad spectrum protection from UV radiation, and has been approved for use since 1978,” said Dr. Daniel M. Siegel, president of the academy. The Environmental Working Group and other toxicology experts believe that oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and potentially to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. The Environmental Working Group says 56% of beach and sport sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone. The primary function of oxybenzone is to absorb ultraviolet light, but some research shows oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin. The Environmental Working Group also warns consumers to avoid retinyl palminate. Government-funded studies have found that this particular type of vitamin A may increase risk of skin cancer when used on sun-exposed skin. However, these reports have been in mice and evidence has been inconclusive for humans.

Understanding SPF:
SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer — about five hours. Studies show that sunscreen with SPF 15 can block about 93% of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 50 blocks 98%. A product with SPF 100+ blocks about 99.1 percent of the UVB rays. The Environmental Working Group said consumers should not purchase sunscreens with SPF greater than 50. SPF (sun protection factor) works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays on the skin.

You can go to the site and see if your sunscreen is listed or to find a sunscreen that is safe and will work for you EWG list

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May 2nd, 2012

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer, followed by Melanoma, which is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old. Facts to know about tanning:

  • Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure. 1
  • Ten minutes in a sunbed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun. 2
  • Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. 3
  • People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. 4

What can you do to prevent skin cancer:

  • Do not burn
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen
  • Examine your skin
Check out our previous post on skin cancer treatment: click HERE

1. Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Link. Accessed January 24, 2011.

2. World Health Organization. Sunbeds. World Health Organization. 2010. Link. Accessed October 25, 2010.
3. Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Berwick M, Weinstock MA, Anderson KE, Warshaw EM. Indoor tanning and risk of melanoma: a case-control study in a highly-exposed population. Cancer Epidem Biomar Prev 2010 June; 19(6):1557-1568.
4. Karagas MR, Stannard VA, Mott LA, Slattery MJ, Spencer SK, and Weinstock MA. Use of tanning devices and risk of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002; 94:224; doi:10.1093/jnci/94.3.224.