Study finds chemicals from sunscreen can be absorbed into blood; dermatologists say don’t ditch it

Study finds chemicals from sunscreen can be absorbed into blood; dermatologists say don’t ditch it

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A clinical trial conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has beachgoers and pool lovers concerned about chemicals in sunscreen being absorbed into the bloodstream.

“I think people are nervous now with the study that came out because it’s all over the news about people not wearing sunscreen," said Dr. Kendall Egan, a board certified dermatologist at the Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington. “I’ve even had patients tell me that sunscreen causes skin cancer and that’s really not the case. I think what people really need to realize is that sunscreen doesn’t protect you 100% from the sun, so if you’re in the sun all day long but you’re still wearing sunscreen, you’re still being exposed to UV light and you’re still increasing your risk for skin cancer.”

The study, recently published in the Journal of American Medical Association found several chemicals in sunscreen can be detected in high concentrations in the blood after just one day of frequent use.

The small clinical trial consisted of 24 healthy patients ranging from children to adults up to age 60. The results found when applied to 75% of the body, there were higher levels in the blood than expected.

“The conclusion of the study was yes, they’re there but what are the health risks to that?" Egan asked. "Is this going to be a problem years from now if you’re applying these types of sunscreens and we just don’t know yet? We need more research.”

Egan urged you to not ditch the sunscreen. There are options that are chemical free and just as effective.

“If you’re worried about these chemical sunscreens and systemic absorption, pick one that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based kind of ingredients in it," Egan said. “Zinc oxide is basically diaper cream. ... It’s safe to use.”

She said you want to stay away from nano particles, the kind of newer technology that makes sunscreen less white and easier to rub in. Sunscreen that is more difficult to rub in is safer for your skin and the environment, Egan said.

Egan has diagnosed advanced melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer and said if you don’t want to wear zinc-based sunscreens, any sunscreen is better than none at all.

“Whatever sunscreen you will wear is what I’ll take," she said. "But if you want to go beyond that, zinc oxide based sunscreens are everywhere. There are different price levels. You do not need to spend a ton of money on your sunscreen. Pick one that you like and that you’ll wear and I encourage zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based sunscreen.”

Egan also said most people do not wear enough sunscreen, and should use it everyday. A total body application is about an ounce or what would fill a shot glass.

Bottles of sunscreen are usually 5-6 ounces and Egan recommends applying it every hour if you’re out in the sun for an extended period of time. That means you should be going through bottles or tubes of it.

“It shouldn’t last you years or multiple summers,” Egan said.

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