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Adverse effects from both short- and long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation include photoaging, photoimmunosuppression, sunburn and photocarcinogenesis.
Sunscreens are widely held to be a safe and effective photoprotective strategy against the detrimental effects of UV radiation (UVR), but increasing concerns have been raised regarding their safety and efficacy. Namely, the prevention of skin cancer, effects on vitamin D synthesis and potential toxicities of three common ingredients are reviewed: oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and nanoparticles of zinc oxide (ZnO) and titanium dioxide (TiO2).
Evidence from randomized controlled trials has shown that sunscreens provide substantial protective effects against certain skin cancers, specifically squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Studies examining the relationship between topical sunscreen use and vitamin D synthesis demonstrate an inhibitory effect on vitamin D production, although the development of vitamin D deficiency has not been reported, likely owing to improper use in real-world settings.
No conclusive data have been published to date demonstrating adverse effects on human health from oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate or nanoparticles of ZnO and TiO2. However, the use of obsolete sunscreen technology in the vast majority of published studies is an important limitation to the conclusions that can be drawn.
Nonetheless, the currently available body of evidence indicates that the use of sunscreen protects against certain skin cancers, does not cause vitamin D deficiency in practice and lacks any demonstrable toxicity towards human health.
Given these findings, dermatologists should remain steadfast in recommending the use of sunscreens as a safe and effective method of photoprotection.
New Core Paper published on March 12, 2012 at Access Dermatology:
Demystifying the Dangers of Sunscreen
Mark E. Burnett and Steven Q. Wang
Dermatology Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA
Click HERE for the full paper