FDA asking manufacturers to study safety of chemicals in sunscreen

FDA asking manufacturers to study safety of chemicals in sunscreen
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Several ingredients commonly found in sunscreens may be absorbed into the bloodstream rather than remaining on the surface of the skin, suggesting the need for further study by manufacturers, according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

FDA researchers found users of products with the active ingredient avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene or ecamsule absorb higher levels than the amount benign enough not to require safety testing, according to the study. In some cases, the levels were up to 40 times higher than that threshold.

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What harm, if any, is caused by systemic exposure to the chemicals remains unclear, according to the study. The researchers wrote the results indicate the need for further analysis.

“The systemic absorption of sunscreen ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings,” the study abstract states. “These results do not indicate that individuals should refrain from the use of sunscreen.”

“Just because they are absorbed doesn’t mean they are unsafe,” co-author Dr. Theresa Michele, director of the division of nonprescription drug products at the FDA, told NBC News. “That’s why we are asking for additional data.”

People should explore other methods for protecting their skin from exposure, such as sunglasses or protective clothing, Michele told the news outlet. However, she said, people should continue using sunscreen products wherever possible.

“It’s very important from a public health perspective that people use them, especially as skin cancer rates are increasing,” she said. “Right now, we know that there are benefits from these products and we don’t know if there are any harms.”