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Sunscreen chemicals can seep into your skin, FDA finds

Posted at 6:09 PM, May 07, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Some types of sunscreens can seep chemicals into your bloodstream, a Food and Drug Administration study found.

The results show regular usage can leave higher than FDA accepted levels of avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule in the blood stream. The report was published in the Journal of American Medical Association.

Lisa Ball, a nurse practitioner and owner of her own dermatology practice, said these chemicals could be dangerous.

"We do know that a lot of those chemicals could contribute to cancer or maybe reproductive or developmental concerns."

These ingredients are most commonly found in chemically based sunscreen. The opposite of chemically based is physically based, which normally includes titanium oxide or zinc oxide.

"Physical based sunscreens are safer most likely than chemical based sunscreens," Ball said.

This isn't the first time that sunscreen as been linked to absorption to the bloodstream. A 1997 study found similar results.

These FDA findings aren't entirely conclusive, though.

"The systemic absorption of sunscreen ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings. These results do not indicate that individuals should refrain from the use of sunscreen," the study said.

Potentially harmful chemicals were found in the test subject's blood, but to what extent are they dangerous for people to use is unknown.

"But what they haven’t demonstrated at this point is whether this has any health impact at all," Dr. Oscar Colegio, the dermatology department chair at Roswell Comprehensive Care Center, said.

He said the findings are also not surprising because, "given a variety of topical agents and creams can get into our blood systems."

This does not refute the findings of the study; rather, it means more has to be done.

Skin cancer is among the most common types of cancer. The National Cancer Institute there to be around 96,480 new cases of melanoma in the US in 2019.

These findings do not mean you should stop using sunscreen.

"Avoidance of the sunscreen ingredients highlighted in this study, or of sunscreen altogether, could have significant negative health implications. At a minimum, physicians should recommend use of sunscreen formulations containing GRASE ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as part of a larger program of photoprotection that includes seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses, until meaningful answers to these questions are available," Robert Califf, former chariman of the FDA and current editor in chief of JAMA Dermatology, said in an editorial piece in JAMA.