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Jul 6, 2009

How safe & effective are sunscreens, really?

Sunscreens are improving, but three of five brand-name products either don't protect the skin from sun damage sufficiently, contain hazardous chemicals, or both, according to a report by the watchdog organization Environmental Working Group (EWG).

"I'd give the industry a C minus," says Jane Houlihan, EWG's senior vice president for research. "They have moved from a D to a C-minus in my book."

Overall, however, she says the industry is "not doing enough to protect consumers from UVA radiation."

The report is called the EWG 2009 Sunscreen Guide. An industry spokesman says the report is flawed.

Dermatologists who reviewed the report for WebMD offered praise and criticism. "Some points are definitely correct,'' says Henry Lim, MD, chairman of the department of dermatology at Henry Ford Health Systems, Detroit. But, he adds, ''This report has somewhat of an alarmist tone.''

Sandra Read, MD, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist and member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Dermatology, says she finds the report discouraging but says she hopes it will raise awareness of the need for sunscreen.
The 2009 Study on Sunscreen Effectiveness

This year's report is the third annual from EWG, which investigated 1,572 sunscreens, lip balms, and daily moisturizers with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, typically the minimum recommended.

This year's study, as those in the past, was triggered, according to EWG, because the FDA has not set comprehensive safety standards for sunscreens. The agency has set guidelines for UVB protection but those for UVA are pending. UVA rays are associated with skin sagging and wrinkles, but more recently have also been associated with skin cancer; UVB rays can lead to skin cancer and sunburn.

The FDA is lagging behind other countries, the report charges, because it has approved only 17 sunscreen chemicals for U.S. use, compared to at least 29 in other countries.- WEBMD

Erika Schwartz, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Cinergy Health ( is a general internist, an authority on preventive health and a patient advocate. She is a 25 year health industry veteran, working in both an ER as well as a private practice. She is based in New York and very media savvy (Dr. Erika has appeared on Oprah, The View etc).

From the Desk of Susan M. Rotante :

To do the 2009 study, EWG scientists got a list of ingredients from retailers and then used numerous databases to evaluate safety and effectiveness.

From deak of Looking to interview doctors on sun protection/skin cancer? Summer is officially here and the sun is full force, we’ve all bought our sunscreen for this season, however, a new study shows that three of the five top brand-name sunscreens don’t protect skin sufficiently and contain hazardous chemicals .

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually. There is not enough being done to protect consumers from skin cancer.

I work with several skincare, beauty and health prevention experts who can discuss tips to prevent skin cancer, sun protection and what products to use that DO protect your skin.

Please let me know if you are interested in setting up an interview, bio and headshot are below for your reference:

Susan M. Rotante
5W Public Relations (
1120 Avenue of Americas
7th Floor
NY NY 10036
Direct Dial- 212-584-4317
T- 212-999-5585
F- 646-649-9088

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Dr.Mrinali Sharmah. said...

i really like this post...awesome.

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