Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Your Sunscreen May be Letting You Down

As the skin cancer death rate climbs, a lawsuit has been brought against sunscreen makers.

Before we get into the lawsuits, let's look at the how, what and why of skin cancer.

First of all, the sun's ultraviolet rays put you at risk of sun cancer. Should you be overexposed, you may develop one of two basic types of skin cancer: nonmelanoma (basal cell and squamous cell cancers) or melanoma.

Nonmelanoma occurs at the surface of the skin, and is less deadly than melanoma. Still, 1 million people are diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer and 2,800 people die from it each year, according to
a recent report at Forbes Health News.

Melanoma, on the other hand, has caused 7,910 this year so far. And it's killing at a faster rate than ever. According to the American Cancer Society, and reported by Forbes, "the mortality rate for the disease has increased by 50 percent since the 1970s."

There are certain things you can do to protect yourself from skin cancer. For example, avoid exposure to the sun between 10AM and 2PM, wear sunglasses, hats and of course, apply sunscreen. But is your sunscreen really protecting you?

A new lawsuit filed in California by a group of lawyers alleges sunscreen makers are guilty of "fraud, negligence and intentional deception in the marketing and labeling of some products,"
reports CNN. Those who filed the suit believe labels like "all day," "waterproof," even "SPF" are misleading.

With regard to "all day" and "waterproof," one dermatologist told CNN, "There is no 'all day,' there is no 'waterproof' product. It doesn't exist." Makes sense. This is just sunscreen, it's not superglue, if you go swimming, sweat or rub against stuff, sunscreen is going to come off.

But even when it stays on your skin, many sunscreens may only be protecting you from half of the sun's harmful rays. What's worse, insufficient sunscreens are not shielding you from the most dangerous rays. According to the CNN report, damaging sun rays come in UVA and UVB rays. UVA cause nonmelanoma skin cancer. UVB cause melanoma (the deadlier) skin cancer. And when you see "SPF" on a bottle, it only indicates UVA protection.

Use caution when you buy sunscreen. Make sure you're getting something that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and please, re-apply this stuff frequently.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.