Burned by sunscreen claims, consumers now getting help from FDA - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Burned by sunscreen claims, consumers now getting help from FDA

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FDA orders sunscreen makers to list length of time protection lasts despite water or sweat. FDA orders sunscreen makers to list length of time protection lasts despite water or sweat.
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It finally spring time. Well, at least on the calendar. It's still a little cold in the Tri-State. However, we're seeing so much sun now that we've got to start thinking about putting on sunscreen. Doctors advising the FDA are worried that some past claims by sunscreen manufacturers were misleading. So the federal agency is laying down the law: If you make a claim on your packaging, you've got to prove it.

For instance, a bottle we bought last year claims on the front that it provides "broad spectrum" protection, which is just as important as the SPF number that we usually focus on at the store. Now, the words "broad spectrum" may only be used if tests of the product confirm it.

"Sunscreens which are broad spectrum would indicate they would protect against the effect of the burning ray --- the ultraviolet B --- but also protect against the tanning rays, which is the ultraviolet A. We now know that one should be protected from both of them," said Dr. Henry Lim, a dermatologist who was on the FDA's task force. "Now with the new regulation, when sunscreen says it's broad spectrum we know that it has gone through a very strict FDA-mandated test to make sure it is indeed broad spectrum."

Sunscreen manufacturers have to eliminate the words "waterproof" and "sweatproof" because those terms overstate the effectiveness of the products. Water resistance claims will now have to include whether the sunscreen is effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.

The bottle of Aveeno sunblock spray we purchased last year says on the back of the bottle, "Retains SPF after 80 minutes of activity in the water or perspiring." That's something all manufacturers will have to prove and state on their packaging if they want to make claims about their moisture resistance.

When you go shopping for sunscreen, you'll notice old versions mixed in with the newer ones. So look at the bottom of the bottle or box for the expiration date. Try to find one that has been manufactured recently so that you're sure of the claims being made.

This is serious business because nearly half of all cancers in the United States are skin cancers.

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