03 December 2008

Most sunscreens not safe

Eighty-four percent of sunscreens offer inadequate protection from the sun or contains at least one ingredient with significant safety concerns, says a US study.

Eighty-four percent of name-brand sunscreens tested offered inadequate protection from the sun or contained at least one ingredient with "significant safety concerns," the US Environmental Working Group (EWG) said in releasing results on 783 products evaluated.

While the findings do not directly apply to the South African market, they may well trigger a similar investigation into locally available sunscreens.

"Only 16 percent of the products on the US market are both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards," the Washington, DC-based group said in an analysis posted on its Web site.

At least 48 percent of products evaluated had unacceptable or misleading marketing claims, including terms like "all day protection," "mild as water," and "blocks all harmful rays," the EWG said.

Ingredients contained in some of the sunscreens "release skin damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like oestrogen and could disrupt hormone systems, several are strongly linked to allergic reactions, and still others may build up in the body or the environment," the group warned.

The EWG criticised the US government for not approving mandatory safety standards for sunscreens, leaving manufacturers to "make their own decisions on everything from advertising claims to product quality." – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
Sun Centre
Sunscreen can damage your skin

June 2007


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules