Sunscreen ingredients may not be effective, doctors say

A recent study shows that most sunscreens aren't as effective as many of them are advertised to be.

The Environmental Working Group released its sixth annual sunscreen guide and only recommended one in four of the 1,800 brands tested. In order for the sunscreen to be declared safe, the EWG researchers said the brand must be free of oxybenzone, but that ingredient is found in more than half of all sunscreens.

Oxybenzone absorbs ultraviolet light, but some research suggests the chemical itself can be absorbed through the skin. EWG believes it may mimic estrogen in the body, causing cell damage that may lead to skin cancer.

Dermatologist Scott Geunthner with Hendricks Regional Health Hospital said he disagreed with the research. "I'm very concerned about the findings because I do not believe they are true," Geunthner said. "Sunscreens, including the oxybenzones, have been around for many years and is a very effective and safe sunblock.

"The American Academy of Dermatology has looked at all kinds of sunblocks and sunscreen and believes this is safe, and it is very effective," he said.

Medical experts advised consumers to still take precaution to protect skin from the sun and to use brands with an SPF of at least 30.

"Proper application is at least one shot glass for the entire body. It's very important to do that. And it's also important to reapply every couple of hours and apply approximately 30 minutes before you head into exposure," Geunthner said.

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