One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Most skin cancers are believed to be the results of severe sunburns during childhood. Now keeping your kids safe in the sun will soon get easier.
Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced sunscreen labels are getting revamped.
The new regulation allows only sunscreen products that protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to be labeled as “Broad Spectrum” .
Under the new labeling, sunscreens labeled as both Broad Spectrum and SPF 15 (or higher), if used regularly, as directed, and in combination with other sun protection measures can claim they will help prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and reduce the risk of early skin aging.
The FDA says sunburn is primarily caused by UVB radiation.
Both UVB and UVA radiation contribute to sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging.
Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed (D) authored the proposed Sunscreen Labeling Protection Act.
The Skin Cancer Foundation says annually more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancers are diagnosed in over two million people. That’s more than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. Nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma and 13 million are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, typically diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
“FDA has evaluated the data and developed testing and labeling requirements for sunscreen products, so that manufacturers can modernize their product information and consumers can be well-informed on which products offer the greatest benefit,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “These changes to sunscreen labels are an important part of helping consumers have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families.”
Any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF Under 15 (between 2 to 14), will be required to have a warning stating the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
The FDA has also proposed a rule to limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +”, because there is no sufficient data showing products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. In 2007, 8,461 people died from melanomas of the skin.
The Rhode Island Cancer Council (RICC) says in the last 10 years the incidence of melanoma has risen approximately 50 percent in both men and women in the Ocean State.
The RICC recommends:
- Avoiding excess sun exposure at all times. Particularly 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Wear a hat, long sleeves if possible, and sunglasses when you are in the sun.
- Use sunscreen or sunblock with at least SPF 15. Sunscreen should be waterproof and applied 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. It should be reapplied every 90 minutes, or more often if you are in the water.
- Have a complete skin exam.
- Quit smoking or don’t start smoking.
The new FDA sunscreen regulations will become effective for most manufacturers in one year.
Best Sunscreens for 2011