Mt. Vernon Register-News

Features

June 19, 2013

Are sunscreen chemicals something to worry about?

As the season of bare skin and scorching sun draws near, you — like so many other people — may find yourself scratching your head over sunscreen.

Yes, skin protection is essential, especially with skin cancer rates on the rise in many populations around the world. But sunscreens come with often confusing labels and long, unpronounceable lists of chemical and other ingredients. How do you know which are safe to slather on you or your kids?

The first thing to keep in mind is that not all sunscreens are created equal, says Mary Sheu, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

"There are physical sunscreens that reflect light — they're like little mirrors that sit on your skin," she says. Such products, made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, sit on your skin and block the sun's UVA and UVB rays. (These are the ones that can cause sunburns, cell damage and skin cancer.)

The minerals are opaque, giving beachgoers that classic white-nose look, though new versions are often tinted or "micronized" (ground into tinier-than-usual particles) so they'll blend into the skin.

Physical sunscreens are the least likely to produce rashes or other allergic reactions, so they're often recommended for people with sensitive skin, Sheu says.

The other kind of protection is chemical sunscreen. Instead of blocking or reflecting the sun's rays, these products absorb UVA and UVB light to keep it from damaging skin, Sheu says. Unlike physical sunscreens, they can be absorbed into the skin — and that's where the question of safety comes in.

"Even though the data are soft, we do know that a certain amount of the chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the body, and we don't know exactly what their effects are," says Robert Friedman, a clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine and the chief executive of MDSolarSciences, a company based in Norwalk, Conn., that develops sunscreen and skin-care products.

Text Only
Features
  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

  • A man with amnesia taught us how memories become personal

    Although not as celebrated as the late American amnesiac H.M., for my money K.C. taught us more important and poignant things about how memory works. He showed how we make memories personal and personally meaningful. He also had a heck of a life story.

    April 7, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks