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We suspected as much, but an independent analysis just published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology confirms that there is no evidence that retinyl palmitate in sunscreen causes cancer.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group set off a firestorm of publicity by publishing data that suggested that sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate or Vitamin A actually speeds the development of skin cancer. The report garnered headlines around the world, contributed to consumer confusion about sunscreen safety, and although no data is available to support this, undoubtedly led some consumers to stop using sunscreen altogether.

Consumers and politicians, including New York Senator Chuck Schumer, called upon the FDA to clarify its position on retinyl palmitate. That agency remained and continues to remain mum, a considerable disservice to consumers in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record.

Now, thanks to researchers at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology which no doubt rushed these findings into print, we have some answers.  Here is what Henry W. Lim, MD, FAAD, chairman of the department of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said of the analysis.

“Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group issued a health warning that sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate could pose a cancer risk. This warning garnered significant media attention and caused considerable confusion among the public. Our report should help dismiss the misinformation that sunscreens are not safe, as sunscreens are vitally important in reducing your risk for skin cancer, not causing it.”

These researchers have done what the FDA should have done and, frankly, they are owed a debt of gratitude by anyone concerned with this issue.

We’ll break down the findings in more detail in a later post. But for now, include sunscreen as a critical component in sun protection habits.

Be safe. Be SunAWARE. And wear sunscreen confidently.


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