Entries in Sunscreen (12)


Sunscreen May Minimize Effects of Aging on Skin

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the heat of summer approaching sunbathing and sunscreens are on many Americans' to-do lists. We all know that sunscreen protects us from the harmful rays of the sun that can cause skin cancer, but according to one study, they may also be a fountain of youth.

An Australian study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says that regular sunscreen use may reduce the signs of aging. Researchers instructed half of the approximately 900 participants in the study to wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every day and the other half to wear sunscreen at their own discretion.

After four years, when researchers studied their skin closely, the group that used daily sunscreen was 24 percent less likely to show signs of aging skin.

The same study looked at beta-carotene supplements and found that they had no impact on aging skin. Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant that some people believe protects the skin from aging.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Inexpensive Sunscreens Top "Consumer Reports" List 

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Before your trip to a tropical paradise, you may want to stop at Walmart or Target for the best sunscreen protection.

According to Consumer Reports, the top two sunscreens in their tests were Walmart's Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 lotion and Target's Up & Up Sport SPF 50 spray, both inexpensive brands.

Consumer Reports says sunscreens should block both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, and should keep working after you've been in the water.

Consumer Reports warns that you can’t always rely on just the SPF number, which is just a measure of UVB ray protection. UVB rays cause sunburn and cancer, while UVA rays tan and age skin, and they contribute to skin cancer as well. The top rated sunscreens protected against both.

Consumer Reports’ sunscreen buying guide notes that top rated sunscreens actually change from year to year. The highest rated one in 2012 came in dead last this year.

“It's hard to explain the changes but our tests did find that there are better choices,” the buying guide reads. “New labeling and test requirements from the Food and Drug Administration could have led sunscreen makers to tweak ingredients, but several manufacturers told us they hadn't changed formulations since our last tests.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sunscreen Clothes: Do They Work?

File photo. Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's a hot summer all across America, but do you really need more than sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the rays?

A whole new category of products are now available that include clothes, makeup and shampoo -- all promising to offer extra protection from the sun: even bikinis.

"For the life of me, I don't know what good that will do," Dr. David Leffell, a professor of dermatology at Yale University, told ABC News about the sunscreen swimsuit. "By definition, most of the body is uncovered, so the rationale of sun-protective clothing in the bikini escapes me."

While the shampoo doesn't protect the scalp at all, the good news is that chemically treated clothes work, and Dr. Melda Isaac, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist, routinely recommends them to her patients.

"Let's face it, none of us really apply the right amount of sunscreen," she said. "Good sun protective clothing assures you of getting the proper protection."

ABC News tested a polo shirt with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50 and a child's hoodie rated UPF 20 in a certified lab. The results were that the garments worked as advertised when they were brand new.

However, the clothing did lose some effectiveness after three or four washes, which made the experts believe they are unlikely to last more than one season.

"A year or two would be a very good standard for the longevity of a fabric," said Leffell. "The protection doesn't last forever, and you don't want to take things out of storage every summer and assume that you're being protected."

Detergent that adds chemical sunscreen to your regular clothes also proved to be effective. What does not work is a plain, white untreated t-shirt. It offers only SPF 8 protection -- a sunburn waiting to happen. But when treated with a detergent that includes a sunscreen additive, the SPF increases to 15.

A cheaper alternative to all this remains sunscreen and dark clothes that deflect UV rays.

"If someone would actually want to wear denim on the beach, that would offer the best sun protection, but obviously that's going to be warm," said Isaac.

If not, there's always the sunscreen-treated bikini, it passed the test with an SPF of 50 but, of course, you'll need an awful lot of sunscreen for the rest of you.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Academy of Dermatology: How to Choose Sunscreen 

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Academy of Dermatology says that, although people may know it's important to wear sunscreen when outdoors this summer, it's essential to know how to pick the correct sunscreen and how to apply it, Health Day reports.

Dermatologist Dr. Henry Lim said in an AAD news release that consumers may be overwhelmed by the large number of sunscreen products available, and as a result, may avoid using it altogether. This leads to sunburn and overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation, he said.

The AAD suggests reading the label on sunscreen products and using only products that offer the following:

- Broad-spectrum coverage (the label may say "broad spectrum," "protects against UVA/UVB," or "UVA/UVB protection.")

- An SPF of 30 or above

- Water resistant

The AAD also recommends re-applying every two hours when outdoors, finding shade when your shadow appears shorter than you are and wearing protecting clothing like long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Lim said it's best to apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to going outside, and to re-apply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. He also said the AAD recommends one ounce of sunscreen for the entire body, or enough to fill a shot glass, to be adequately protected.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Explaining SPF

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- SPF, or sun protection factor, is associated with sunscreens that help block UVB rays, according to the LA Times.

Sunburns are caused by UVB rays. The SPF rating is the ratio of time you should be protected from the sun before getting a sun burn. For example, theoretically if you use a SPF 15, it should take 15 times longer to get a sun burn than if you did not use sunscreen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Truth About Sunscreen: Are Labels Lying?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As summer approaches and Americans head to the beaches for Memorial Day Weekend, people are stocking up on sunscreen to protect their skin. But finding a good sunscreen can be difficult. Walk down the aisle looking to buy sunscreen and you're bombarded with claims such as waterproof, sweat-proof, and protects against skin cancer. The problem, many of those claims are false.

For example, some sunscreen advertises themselves as being waterproof and offering all-day protection. The FDA has labeled both these claims "misleading and false." According to David Andrews of the Environmental Working Group, there's no such thing as waterproof sunscreen at all. No matter what the sunscreen, he told us, "at some point it will rub off and dissolve in to the water."

Some sunscreens also offer broad spectrum protection, a term which seems to indicate that they protect against skin cancer, sunburn and aging. This isn't always the case. Products with SPF 15 or lower may protect against sunburn, but they do not help against wrinkles and skin cancer. In addition, some sunscreens protect against UVB rays, but not UVA. Both types work together to damage the skin.

In 2011 the FDA took action against the sunscreen makers, demanding that they update their labels to reflect these realities. Among other things, the FDA now requires a "test method to demonstrate that a sunscreen product provides "broad spectrum" protection, which is protection against both UVB and UVA radiation." Sunscreen manufacturers were given until this summer to update their labels accordingly.

However, not all companies have been able to comply. The companies argued that they couldn't meet the new regulations in time for this summer, appealing to the FDA for more time. The agency has granted them an extension until December to get their labels into compliance. The FDA defended the decision, telling ABC News, "we think that the data they have submitted does adequately support delaying compliance date," adding, "You are already starting to see some of these new testing and labeling requirements being implemented."

In the meantime, stores are stocked with a mixture of old and new labels, making it difficult to tell what really works.

The FDA says without the delay, there may have been a sunscreen shortage. So consumers can now count on plenty of sunscreen--but just a shade of truth.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Majority of Kids Don't Use Sunscreen Regularly, Study Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The majority of pre-adolescents don't regularly use sunscreen, according to a new study, despite the fact that many of them suffered sunburns at some point during their childhood, which increases the risk of developing melanoma later in life.

Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York followed 360 kids who were around 10 years old between 2004 and 2007 and surveyed them about whether they ever had sunburns, how much time they spent in the sun and how often they wore sunscreen.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that more than half the children reported having at least one sunburn the previous summer, and that number was about the same when the children were questioned three years later.

"At the same time, there was a significant reduction in reported sunscreen use," said Stephen Dusza, lead author and a research epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

While 50 percent of the kids said they used sunscreen at the beginning of the study, that number dropped to 25 percent three years later.  Fair-skinned children were at higher risk, since they were more likely to report multiple sunburns.

Most of the study participants said they liked the appearance of a tan, and the number of children who said they spent time in the sun to get a tan increased over the three-year period.

Dusza and dermatologists not involved in the research said the findings highlight the importance of finding effective ways to educate children of this age group about sun safety and the potential dangers of excessive exposure to ultraviolet light.

"When you ask kids or teens about tanning, they say people look better with a tan, and tanning has a very positive association in kids of this age, so trying to get them to limit this behavior is a difficult message to get across," Dusza said.

"This is the age group we need to make an impact on, becuase it gets harder to make an impact as they get into their later teen and early adult years," said Dr. Jonette Keri, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sunscreen Pill from Aussie Reef Coral?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Tropical coral from Australia's Great Barrier Reef contains natural UV blockers that might one day come in a pill that protects our eyes and skin from the sun's ravages, researchers say.

But don't toss your high-SPF lotions and creams yet. If all goes as planned, a tablet that would protect people from damaging ultraviolet radiation is probably about five years away, said Paul Long, a senior lecturer in pharmaceutical science at King's College London.

Long leads a three-year research project, financed by the British government, focused on sun-shielding compounds in Acropora microphthalma coral. He and his fellow researchers have been trying to unravel the biochemical secrets of these chemicals, extracted from coral samples gathered during night dives.

"What we have found is that the algae living within the coral makes a compound that we think is transported to the coral, which then modifies it into a sunscreen for the benefit of both the coral and the algae," Long said in a statement from King's College, which issued a news release about the research. "Not only does this protect them both from UV damage, but we have seen that fish that feed on the coral also benefit from this sunscreen protection, so it is clearly passed up the food chain."

Because Acropora microphthalma coral is endangered, the scientists first must create a synthetic version of the coral compounds, which could be tested on human skin samples. Long has suggested scientists might find a ready supply in excess skin discarded by plastic surgeons after tummy tucks. Only after scientists learn how the compound affects skin cells could they then begin developing a pill that would protect skin throughout the body, as well as the eyes, which also are sensitive to the effects of UV light.

Long and his colleagues began thinking a pill might work based upon observations of small fish eating coral, "like Nemo" in the animated movie Finding Nemo, "and then larger fish would eat the smaller fish, so these compounds pass up the food chain."

One important consideration for researchers involves determining how the compounds' UV-blocking properties might interfere with the body's production of Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D comes either from exposure to sunlight, or from dietary supplements.

A pill based on coral's natural UV blockers wouldn't be the first sunscreen pill to offer protection from the inside out. A dietary supplement called Heliocare contains green tea, beta-carotene and Polypodium leucotomos, a tropical fern extract long used for psoriasis and eczema. However, dermatologists say its skin-protective antioxidants don't take the place of topical sunscreens, but may make the sun less vulnerable to UV damage. A bottle of 60 Heliocare pills runs about $50.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers Seek to Explain Sunburn Pain

Steve Mason/Digital Vision(LONDON) -- Sunburn is one of the summer's most enduring stings, leaving a sore, red, peeling patch long after the day's rays give way to cooler nights. Ointments and aspirin can help soothe the sear. But the pain, part of the body's plea for shade and sunscreen, is inevitable.

British researchers have discovered a molecule responsible for the persistent pain caused by sunburn, offering hope for a treatment that could one day block it.

"It wasn't known before that this protein was implicated in any kind of pain," said Stephen McMahon, professor of physiology at Guy's Medical School in London. "If you wanted a cure for sunburn pain, we may have found that."

The protein, called CXCL5, was elevated in painful sunburns. And blocking the protein's effects in a rat model of sunburn relieved the pain. The study was published today in Science Translational Medicine.

But McMahon, a long time pain researcher, thinks blocking sunburn pain is a bad idea. Sunburns are the body's response to ultraviolet radiation, which kills some skin cells and permanently damages the DNA of others, sometimes leading to skin cancer later on. In an attempt to save the damaged cells with oxygen and nutrients, the body pumps more blood to the skin, turning it red. And the swollen blood vessels ooze plasma, causing blisters.

"By the time you see your skin turning pink, it's almost too late," said Dr. Darrell Rigel, dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "The damage has already happened."

That damage, Rigel said, is impossible to undo.

"The best thing you can do is protect yourself from the sun," he said. "Wear a broad-brimmed hat, avoid being outside when the sun is at its strongest, and use sunscreen. We know those three things together lower sunburn risk and subsequently lower the risk of skin cancer."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA Adds Stricter Labels to Sunscreen

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- New sunscreen labels will include a rating system to show how well the product protects users against Ultraviolet A (UVA) light, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The agency's latest regulation recommends that sunscreen labeling be expanded to provide a four-star rating system that informs consumers how well the product protects them against UVA light.

Sunscreen labels are already required to carry a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) level that informs users how well the product protects against UVB light, which primarily causes sunburn.  Enhanced labeling will focus on UVA light, which is potentially more damaging because it penetrates the skin further than UVB and causes the skin to tan.

Both kinds of UV light contribute to skin damage, including premature skin aging and skin cancer.

The agency is also looking to change the maximum sunburn protection level from its recommended SPF 30 to SPF 50.

The new UVA star rating will be displayed next to the SPF ratings.  One star will mean low UVA protection, while four stars ensure the highest level of protection.

The label will also include ways that people can protect themselves from sun overexposure, such as limiting time in the sun and wearing protective clothing. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio