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New Labels for Sunscreen

Sunscreen May Fail To Prevent Skin Cancer
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

New guidelines were issued yesterday by the Food & Drug Administration regarding sunscreen and their labels. The term broad spectrum is just one of the classifications the agency has created under these new guidelines.  “Broad spectrum” protects against UVB radiation and a percentage of UVA radiation.  If you don’t know, UVB is the major cause of sunburn while UVA and UVB both cause skin cancer and your skin to age.

Sunscreens will still be labeled with a specific sun protection factor (SPF).  However, the FDA says they will no longer be able to carry any value higher than 50 because they just don’t have sufficient data supporting the theory of a higher SPF providing great protection.  Instead, the highest category will be 50-plus.

Each year, an estimated 3.5 million Americans develop skin cancer, according to Dr. Ronald Moy, president of the American Academy of Dermatology.  Scary, right?  If detected early, both skin cancer and melanoma are curable.  Moy also stated though, “Every hour, an American dies of melanoma.”  If it has spread throughout the body, melanoma can be hard to treat.

The new labels will hopefully reduce consumer confusion.  The agency has also developed new protocols for testing the products’ effectiveness at blocking the sun’s rays.  The new labels are due out on store shelves by the summer of 2012.  If you aren’t sure whether you’re using enough sunscreen, you should be using the amount the size of a golf ball to cover your entire body.

Do you use sunscreen?  If so, have you been using enough sunscreen?

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