FDA Issues New Sunscreen Guidelines

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The Food and Drug Administration is hoping its new sunscreen guidelines will clear up any confusion caused by the maze of sun protection numbers and other claims on found on many sunscreen products.

"People were getting a false sense of security with sunscreens, the way they," said Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union.

Under the new rules published Tuesday, labels will no longer be able to claim a sunscreen is waterproof or sweat proof -- the FDA says that there is no such thing.

Health officials also recommend that sunscreen be re-applied every two hours as well as every time you get out of the water.

Another change -- in order for a company to claim that a specific sunscreen prevents skin cancer, the product must block both UVA and UVB rays and have an SPF of at least 15.

UVB rays protect against sunburns that may contribute to skin cancer.  UVA rays go much deeper and cause premature aging, which contributes to skin cancer.

"These changes will help people make better informed decisions about using sunscreens and allow them to more effectively protect themselves and their families from sun induced damage," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Last year, more than 60,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with melanoma -- the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

"Melanoma used to be a disease of older men, now melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults in their late 20s," said Dr. Ronald Moy, president of the American Academy of Dermatology.

FDA officials say that their new guidelines will not only make Americans more aware of the harmful effects of the sun, they will save lives.

The new guidelines will take effect next summer.

For More Information:

Food and Drug Administration

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