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Way Downstream …(May 9-15, 2019)

That sunscreen seeps into your body

     Given the prevalence of skin cancer in Maryland, we’ve been paying more attention to protecting ourselves from the sun. We reported in February on a troubling study concluding that just two of 16 active ingredients in sunscreen — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — are regarded by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective. [https://bit.ly/2PTIJbl]

         Manufacturers have until November to work with the FDA in regard to other ingredients or risk seeing their products yanked from the market.

         But what about protecting ourselves from the protection?

         An FDA study [https://bit.ly/2Y5v5EM] published this week in the medical journal JAMA injects another wrinkle into this puzzle with findings that the lotions we slather on for protection quickly get absorbed into our bodies.

         Over a week’s time, two-dozen healthy people applied recommended amounts of four leading sunscreens. Within a day, chemicals turned up in the bloodstream and, perhaps worse, built up in the days after. 

         The researchers didn’t get into potential health effects and are by no means warning to stop using sunscreen. But the messages were clear: More study is needed and, as our mothers told us, “all things in moderation.”

         What to do as we wait for more research? The best overall course we have found is Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreens: www.ewg.org/sunscreen.