The Times West Virginian

Community News Network

June 11, 2013

When did sunscreen get so complicated?

Summer is almost here, which means it's time for picnics, pool parties, and every parent's favorite pastime: chasing after your kid with the sunscreen bottle. But what's arguably more arduous than slathering lotion onto a screaming 3-year-old is choosing the right sunscreen.

Not only are we presented with hundreds of choices — cool mist or lotion, sensitive skin or extra sensitive skin, SPF 30 or 50 or 75 — many are apparently unsafe, too. Some critics warn that sunscreens can cause cancer while others claim that certain ingredients increase the risk of infertility. Dr. Oz says your sunscreen might be poisonous. In its 2013 Guide to Sunscreens, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group says that only 25 percent of sunscreens on the market are "free of ingredients with serious safety concerns." So should we keep our kids indoors for the next three months?

There is some scientific evidence to support the safety risks, but it's hardly conclusive. Many media outlets have overinterpreted research results, making broad statements that don't reflect what scientists actually know. Plus, while there is research to support avoiding controversial ingredients like oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate (the Environmental Working Group's guide is an excellent resource for identifying sunscreens without them), some experts warn that other sunscreen compounds could pose similar risks we don't yet know about because only a few have been extensively studied.

It helps to have a short primer on sunscreen and how it works. By far the most popular sunscreens are the "organic" ones, so-called because they contain carbon, not because they were grown without pesticides or on a free-range farm. These include most Coppertone and Banana Boat products. These sunscreens protect us from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation by absorbing rays before they penetrate deep into our skin. (Not all organic sunscreens absorb both UVA and UVB rays, which have different wavelengths, so it's important to pick "broad spectrum" versions that protect against both types.)

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the ipad lost its swag?

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads