Sunscreen chemicals exceed safety levels in bloodstream after single use, FDA says

Mineral-based sunscreens are an option

Sunscreen chemicals exceed safety levels in bloodstream after single use, FDA says
Experts and the FDA stress the sun's link to cancer and aging is real, so sun protection shouldn’t be abandoned. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) – After one application, seven chemicals commonly found in sunscreens can be absorbed into the bloodstream at levels exceeding safety thresholds, studies by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, an arm of the US Food and Drug Administration, report.

Just because an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body doesn’t mean that particular ingredient is unsafe, according to Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

"Rather, this finding calls for further industry testing to determine the safety and effect of systemic exposure of sunscreen ingredients, especially with chronic use," Woodcock said.

The chemicals commonly used in sunscreen haven’t been fully tested for safety, according to David Andrews with the Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy group.

"If companies want to keep these ingredients in products, they need to urgently test for potential harm to children and harm from long-term use," he said.

After one application, seven chemicals commonly found in sunscreens can be absorbed into the bloodstream at levels exceeding safety thresholds.
After one application, seven chemicals commonly found in sunscreens can be absorbed into the bloodstream at levels exceeding safety thresholds. (Source: Journal of the American Medical Association)

Experts and the FDA stress the sun's link to cancer and aging is real, so sun protection shouldn’t be abandoned.

If chemical sunscreens are a concern, there are mineral-based products available.

The FDA considers them to be generally safe, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Non-sunscreen options include long-sleeved clothing, hats, sunglasses, and staying in the shade.

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