Slathering on Sunscreen, Early and Often

This is a plea to all children and teenagers, their parents and teachers, and the doctors who treat them: Please take sun exposure more seriously.

Many parents, if not most, are very conscientious about protecting babies from the sun — as long as the infants are still being carried or are confined to a stroller. But once children become ambulatory, sun protection too often takes a back seat to the myriad challenges of getting out of the house with toddlers or bundling children off to school on time.

Unless sun protection practices are established early in life as inviolable habits, akin to using seat belts in a vehicle, children become increasingly lax as they get older about preventing sunburns that can lead to life-threatening cancers decades later. In a study of 360 fifth graders over three years, Alan C. Geller, director of melanoma epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and his colleagues found that as the children moved into adolescencethe proportion who “often or always” used sunscreen declined to 25 percent from 50 percent.

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The 3 Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the most common cause of the disease. In fact, over 1,000,000 people are affected each year!
Skin cancer can be divided into three different types:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

These carcinomas are found usually in places on the body that have been directly exposed to the sun like your ears, face, and mouth.

Symptoms include a bump that turns in to an open sore (ulceration, reddish, flat spot that is sometimes crusty), a bump that gets larger over time, and a sore that won’t heal.

Left untreated, it can spread quickly to other parts of the body like the lymphatic system, bloodstream, and nerve routes.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Accounting for more than 75% of skin cancers diagnosed, basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly developed skin cancer.

These carcinomas are most commonly found on the face, neck, and hands. It is considered highly treatable and rarely spreads to other parts of the body.

Symptoms include sores that ooze or bleed, a redness area that is irritated, a yellow or white area that resembles a scar, or a pink pearly bump.


Melanoma is the most dangerous and deadly type of skin cancer.It can develop on any part of the body, however; the arms, legs and trunk are the most common area of the body. When detected early, it is considered highly treatable.

Symptoms include a mole, freckle, or new/existing spot that changes color in size, shape, and color. It may have an irregular outline and possibly be more than one color.

Your best defense in preventing skin cancer is to avoid excessive exposure to the sun. When you are outdoors, be sure to always wear a sunscreen and stay in a shady area if possible!


Study Finds Dramatic Rise in Skin Cancer Among Young Adults

As a young adult with porcelain skin — I prefer that term to pale — I get it. Bronzed skin is perpetually “in,” and nobody likes going to the beach  only to have to sit under an umbrella and shield their eyes from the glare of  their own upper thighs. But a new study from the Mayo Clinic finds an alarming  increase in skin cancer among young adults, and the reason may be their  persistent efforts to tan.

Published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the study reports that between the years 1970 and 2009, the  incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among  young men ages 18 to 39. Although men generally have a higher lifetime risk of  melanoma than women, the researchers found the opposite trend to be true among  the young adults. “We knew we would see an increase in rates among young women,  but we were surprised we saw such a dramatic increase. This seems to be higher  than what has been reported previously,” said Mayo Clinic dermatologist Dr.  Jerry Brewer in a teleconference.

For the study, researchers used data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project,  a decades-long database of patient care in Olmsted County, Minnesota. The  researchers looked at first-time melanoma diagnoses for all patients. Based on  previous studies on tanning behavior, the authors suggest that the rise of melanoma among young women is linked to their  penchant for indoor tanning.

In 2009 the International Agency of Research on Cancer declared tanning beds a human carcinogen, moving them into the top cancer-risk category alongside  cigarettes. According to Brewer, tanning beds and cigarettes have the same  cancer risk, but teens are ignoring the warnings. He said there is a disconnect  in education about the dangers of tanning-bed use that needs to be  acknowledged.

“Tanning beds can give you seven times the dose of UV radiation as the sun,” said Brewer, “but young adults are still going.”

It’s important to note that although melanoma rates are on the rise,  mortality rates have improved. Researchers credit this to improved  early-detection methods and prompt medical procedures.

“People are now more aware of their skin and of the need to see a doctor when  they see changes. As a result, many cases can be caught before the cancer  advances to a deep melanoma, which is harder to treat,” said Brewer.

Brewer and his fellow researchers support barring the use of tanning booths — especially for teens and  young adults, who are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of early and  frequent tanning — but they recognize the difficulty of enforcing that. “It’s  like trying to ban cigarettes — it’s very hard. Should we be limiting tanning  beds? Absolutely. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Many states do have bans, but kids are smart. We say, ‘You need a  parent’s signature,’ and the kids write the signature themselves,” said  Brewer.

The study group was predominately Caucasian, but the researchers say the  findings are valid and applicable to similar U.S. populations of the same age  range. “There is currently a melanoma epidemic in the U.S., particularly in  young women and middle-aged men. This has been documented by various large  population-based studies, with our study confirming that trend in young women,” said Brewer.

But if people know what to look for, they can prevent melanoma. It takes only  about three minutes to do a skin exam.

“Simply look at your skin,” said Brewer. “This includes getting mirrors and  looking at your back and other hard-to-see areas. It takes a bit of  education to get young people to start performing this initial first step, but  once they do, the simple act of looking over your skin can significantly  decrease chances of dying from skin cancer.”

Brewer also recommended educating yourself on the ABCDE’s of melanoma:

A — asymmetry: one side of a mole or dark spot looks different from the other  side

B — border: instead of being circular or oval, the mole has a jagged edge

C — color: the mole has more than one color, a dark area, a light area  or the colors red, white or blue within it

D — diameter: the mole is larger than 6 mm across, roughly the size of a  pencil eraser

E — evolution: any other changes are noted in the mole, even if the change  can’t be categorized by A, B, C or D, above. Any itching or bleeding in a mole  is also important


Article By: Alexandra Sifferlin

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Paraben? What is that?

What are parabens?

Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in cosmetic products. Chemically, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. The most common parabens used in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Typically, more than one paraben is used in a product, and they are often used in combination with other types of preservatives to provide preservation against a broad range of microorganisms. The use of mixtures of parabens allows the use of lower levels while increasing preservative activity.


Why are preservatives used in cosmetics?

Preservatives may be used in cosmetics to protect them against microbial growth, both to protect consumers and to maintain product integrity.


What kinds of products contain parabens?

They are used in a wide variety of cosmetics, as well as foods and drugs. Cosmetics that may contain parabens include makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, and shaving products, among others.


Are there health risks associated with the use of parabens in cosmetics?

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3%. LUCA uses parabens at levels of around 0.4% depending on the formulation.

On November 14, 2003, the CIR began the process to reopen the safety assessments of methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in order to offer interested parties an opportunity to submit new data for consideration. In September 2005, the CIR decided to re-open the safety assessment for parabens to request exposure estimates and a risk assessment for cosmetic uses. In December 2005, after considering the margins of safety for exposure to women and infants, the Panel determined that there was no need to change its original conclusion that parabens are safe as used in cosmetics. (The CIR is an industry-sponsored organization that reviews cosmetic ingredient safety and publishes its results in open, peer-reviewed literature. The FDA participates in the CIR in a non-voting capacity.)

A study published in 2004 (Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology) detected parabens in breast tumors. The study also discussed this information in the context of the weak estrogen-like properties of parabens and the influence of estrogen on breast cancer. However, the study left several questions unanswered. For example, the study did not show that parabens cause cancer, or that they are harmful in any way, and the study did not look at possible paraben levels in normal tissue. These are not insignificant flaws in the study. The lack of normal tissue as a control, should have kept this study from passing the peer review board.

FDA is aware that estrogenic activity in the body is associated with certain forms of breast cancer. Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen. For example, a 1998 study (Routledge et al., in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology) found that the most potent paraben tested in the study, butylparaben, showed from 10,000- to 100,000-fold less activity than naturally occurring estradiol (a form of estrogen). Further, parabens are used at very low levels in cosmetics. In a review of the estrogenic activity of parabens, (Golden et al., in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2005) the author concluded that based on maximum daily exposure estimates, it was implausible that parabens could increase the risk associated with exposure to estrogenic chemicals.

The FDA believes that there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens.

When designing cosmetic formulations, LUCA preferentially chose to use parabens. It has been both been on the market longer and subject to more scrutiny than any other preservative. It is effective, safe, and well tested.


(The above data was obtained from the FDA website)

2011 FDA Regulations on Sunscreen


For Immediate Release: June 14, 2011
Media Inquiries: Shelly Burgess, 301-796-4651,
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA Announces Changes to Better Inform Consumers About Sunscreen
New Rules Give Consumers More Information to Help Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer, Early Aging

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that sunscreen products meeting modern standards for effectiveness may be labeled with new information to help consumers find products that, when used with other sun protection measures, reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, as well as help prevent sunburn.

The final regulation allows sunscreen products that pass the FDA’s test for protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to be labeled as “Broad Spectrum.” Both UVB and UVA radiation contribute to sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging. Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB radiation.

Under the new labeling, sunscreens labeled as both Broad Spectrum and SPF 15 (or higher), if used regularly, as directed, and in combination with other sun protection measures will help prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and reduce the risk of early skin aging.

“FDA has evaluated the data and developed testing and labeling requirements for sunscreen products, so that manufacturers can modernize their product information and consumers can be well-informed on which products offer the greatest benefit,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “These changes to sunscreen labels are an important part of helping consumers have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families.”

Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test, but only products that are labeled both as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, when used as directed.

Any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14, will be required to have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

“Most skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. FDA encourages consumers to protect themselves,” Woodcock added.  “Not only should consumers regularly apply and reapply sunscreens with Broad Spectrum and SPF of 15 or higher, they should also limit sun exposure.”

In addition to the final rule for sunscreen labeling, today the FDA released three additional regulatory documents — a Proposed Rule, an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for Dosage Forms, and a Draft Enforcement Guidance for Industry.

  • The proposed rule would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +”, because there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50.  The proposal creates the opportunity for the submission of data to support including higher SPF values in the final rule. FDA looks forward to receiving public comment on this document.
  • The ANPR will allow the public a period of time to submit requested data addressing the effectiveness and the safety of sunscreen sprays and to comment on possible directions and warnings for sprays that the FDA may pursue in the future, among other issues regarding dosage forms for sunscreens.
  • The Draft Enforcement Guidance for Industry outlines information to help sunscreen product manufacturers understand how to label and test their products in light of the new final rule and other regulatory initiatives.

To ensure that sunscreen products meet modern safety standards, FDA is also currently reexamining the safety information available for active ingredients included in sunscreens marketed today. The ingredients in sunscreens marketed today have been used for many years and FDA does not have any reason to believe these products are not safe for consumer use.

The new regulations will become effective for most manufacturers in one year.  Manufacturers with annual sales less than $25,000 have two years to comply.