Sunscreen with high SPF ratings do not necessarily provide better protection from the sun, and could actually increase the risk of developing skin cancer, according to an annual study conducted by the non-profit organization, Environmental Working Group.
Health officials recommend paying extra attention the ingredients the next time you buy sunscreen.
“Look on the label, and it tells you what the ingredients are,” said Dr. Timothy Jochen, with Contour Dermatology.
Jochen is a board-certified dermatologist in the desert, who said he is skeptical of the EWG’s findings.
“Sunscreens are still recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, the Skin Cancer Foundation, the CDC and the FDA,” said Jochen.
According to the EWG, whether it’s riding a bike in the park or laying around the pool, wearing hats and shirts might be the best protection from the sun,” he said. “They’re saying people aren’t using enough sunscreen, which is actually true.”
Palm Desert resident Jami Palmer said, “Make sure you put it on for about, I don’t know, 15 minutes before you hit the water so that it has time to set.”
The study also recommends avoiding suncreens with the ingredient Retinyl Palmitate, a vitamin A compound which is found in some Banana Boat brand sunblock and 41 percent of all sunscreens, according to the EWG.
“We use it to reverse and also to prevent skin cancer,” said Jochen.
But, the FDA is currently investigating whether or not that substance actually accelerates skin cancer when exposed to the sun.
“Generally, I just go with the shade,” said Amanda Phillips, who said she doesn’t think too much of the study.
“Avoid peak hours of sunshine, between the hours of 10 and 4,” said Jochen. “Don’t stop using sunscreen.”
The EWG reported that sunblock with a higher SPF rating could increase the risk of cancer because people tend to think they can stay in the sun longer without burning; however, doctors warn that’s not true.
Health officials recommend using a stick with an SPF of 30 and re-applying it to your skin at least once every two hours.