Sunscreen Labels Can Be Misleading - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/21/07

Sunscreen Labels Can Be Misleading

The first day of summer may conjure up thoughts of basking in the sunshine. Unfortunately, there are new concerns about sunscreens.

The U.S. Food and Drug administration is currently rewriting the rules for manufacturers to make sure their labels tell you exactly what kind of protection you're getting. And right now, that's not always the case.

Chances are - you've been relying on that Sun Protection Factor number on the bottle, and if so, experts say you may be getting burned.

"The SPF is a little misleading because it doesn't mention all of the important radiation spectrums," says Dr. Sandra Read, American Academy of Dermatology.

SPF measures UVB rays - which cause sunburns, but not UVA - which cause wrinkles and worse.

"Ultraviolet A does cause skin cancer," says Dr. Read.

That's why the Food and Drug Administration is now writing up new rules that would force manufacturers to better spell out the kind of protection they provide.

When choosing a sunscreen, experts say to always get both UVA and UVB protection. But the question is whether what you're seeing on the label is what you're getting in the bottle.

"A lot of claims on the bottle may not be true," says Jane Houlihan, of the Environmental Working Group.

In a new study of 783 sunscreens, the E.W.G. found a whopping 84 percent either provided inadequate protection, or ingredients with safety concerns.

"One of every eight high SPF products don't protect you from UVA," said Houlihan. "Just UVB."

That means until the government acts, you may have to do a little more research and follow the s's:

  • slip on a shirt
  • slap on a hat
  • slop on your sunscreen
  • seek the shade
  • and wear your sunglasses outside.

"So slip, slap, slop, and shade," says Read.

The Environmental Working Group has posted the results of its sunscreen study online in a searchable database, to see if yours measures up (click here).

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