The Sunscreen Filter
especially those that protect from UVA radiation. That is devastating because it simply translates to thousands if not millions
more consumers contracting skin cancer.
The price paid, now measured in billions
of dollars, that is spent on treatment and
diagnosis (not to mention human suffering) to combat this skin cancer is soaring.
There is no escaping the fact that without effective sunscreens that protect from
the total rays of the sun, especially UVA,
we will not be able to reduce the incidence
of skin cancers in the US. The need for
protection is obvious. Avoiding the suffering and the disastrous consequences of
skin cancer is paramount.
That’s not the case in the rest of the
world. At least six better UV ingredients
have been approved worldwide and, more
importantly, dozens more that potentially
will be superior in blocking UVB, UVA and
IR radiation are in the works. The laboratories in Europe, Japan and elsewhere are
buzzing with R&D efforts to create superior sunscreen products and ingredients.
The commercial incentive is there—the
US is lagging behind. New obstacles put
in place by the FDA further disadvantage
US companies and deny Americans the
protection they deserve.
An Impassioned Plea
If I sound passionate, it’s because people
like Dr. Curt Cole, Dr. Robert Sayre and
Dr. David Steinberg, along with countless
other dermatologists and scientists (in-
cluding myself), are about to retire without
having convinced the FDA of the merits of
improving our ingredients and products
to combat this epidemic. For more than 25
years we have pleaded with the FDA that
our ingredients are woefully inadequate.
Our American arsenal of UVA filters is
comprised of only three ingredients:
• Avobenzone, which we all know has
• Oxybenzone, which has a cloud of
uncertainty relating to its endocrine dis-
rupting activities; and
• Zinc oxide, which has no problems,
other than aesthetics and an incompatibil-
ity with avobenzone.
The rest of the world has access to at
least a half dozen more ingredients, five
of which are in the US TEA process, and
these ingredients have been used effectively and safely for years, some exceeding
20 years. The five European TEA ingredients have met all the requirements of the
TEA process except, presumably, this new
hurdle: passing GRASE status and satisfying the FDA.
As we continue to be engrossed with what
the Congress introduces in bills support-
ing the Sunscreen Innovation Act and with
the FDA rejecting all the TEA applications,
setting higher and higher standards for
approval, research still goes on toward un-
covering yet another threat to consumers.
This time it’s the dark!
In the 1960s, UVB was the only per-
ceived threat. In the 1990s, the threat was
expanded to include UVA. Today, UVA
protection is considered paramount.
Now, in this century, the infrared (IR)
rays are considered important radiation
that requires steps for effective protection.
In February, Yale University researchers
published an article in Science suggesting
that covering exposed skin, steering clear
of the sun during the peak UV hours of
10:00 am to 3:00 pm and always wearing
sunscreen may not be enough to shield
against skin cancer.
The researchers traced the source of
the damage to melanin, the natural tanning pigment that shields the skin of sunbathers from an excess of sunshine. They
suggested that melanin is potentially both
helpful and harmful because it’s a contributory factor in carcinogenesis.
The sun’s UV rays create very reactive species of nitrogen and oxygen compounds that stimulate electrons within
melanin in a process termed chemiexcita-tion. This results in bond breakage to the
DNA that can happen up to three hours
after the skin is exposed to radiation—
even after the sun has gone down. This
obviously increases the skin’s cancer risks.
The researchers have advised that an“eve-ning after” sunscreen with antioxidants
and other cocktails can offer possible solutions to the threat of after-dark carcinogenic processes.2
As researchers pursue the sources
of skin cancer and the ways to protect
against it, our government agencies are
throwing up roadblocks to getting effective ingredients to the American public.
We should encourage research and business by flexibly approving skin protection
1. https://Federalregister.gov/a/2015-03883 and
UV damage occurs even after the sun’s gone down.