I’ve been following a recent controversy between the Skin Cancer Foundation and Environmental Working Group over how sunscreens are tested. Beat of Hawaii previously wrote about sunscreens back in May.
According to the New York Times, the Skin Cancer Foundation, which also tests sunscreens for safety and effectiveness, complains that the testing done by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is “junk science.”
EWG concurs that they are using their own system, inasmuch as no formalized standards of evaluation presently exist. EWG , however, questions the objectivity of the Skin Cancer Foundation by stating:
At a cost of $10,000 to the manufacturer, the Skin Cancer Foundation endorses sunscreen products based on an evaluation that fails to consider two critical factors: whether or not the product protects against UVA protection, and whether the ingredient soaks through the skin and raises health concerns.
Based on my read, it certainly appears that there is a conflict of interest vis-à-vis the Skin Cancer Foundation and the manufacturers who are footing the $10,000 bills.
Moreover the controversy speaks to the clear-cut need for a standardized system of evaluating sunscreens in relation to all aspects of their effectiveness and safety.
So where is the U.S. government when we really need them? The FDA has yet to approve a set of final sunscreen safety standards, a project which EWG says was begun three decades ago.
If and when they do, we understand the standard will likely remove the importance of current SPF ratings on sunscreens, and replace them with a new rating system.
One star would signify the sunscreen offers the lowest protection, while four stars would mean the highest level. It isn’t clear to me how product safety concerns will be addressed by the FDA standards.
As EWG points out, “with more than a million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year, people can’t afford to wait any longer.”
I concur and again suggest you check the EWG’s Skin Deep database, in order to find safe and effective sunscreens.