A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has revealed a possible link between a chemical found in most popular sunscreens and the acceleration of the development of skin cancer, and United States Senator Charles Schumer wants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release that information to the public.
Retinyl palmitate is a derivative of vitamin A and is an additive in hundreds of popular sunscreen products. Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant that is included in many cosmetic products because it has been proven to slow negative aging effects on the skin. According to Sen. Schumer and EWG, a consumer-activist organization that fiercely opposes high amounts of toxic chemicals contained in everyday products, the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research conducted a year-long study a decade ago researching the effects of vitamin A's 'photocarcinogenic' properties, or its propensity to create cancer cells when exposed to sunlight. EWG's analysis of the study's documents revealed that cancerous tumors developed up to 21% faster in animals who had been coated in vitamin A-laced cream than those without it. The FDA firmly denies that this study or any similar studies were ever conducted, but documents obtained from the FDA and the Center for Toxicological Research confirm that the research exists and was documented in 2000.
EWG contends they are not seeking to discourage people from wearing sunscreen to prevent sunburn and the many other effects of sun exposure, but are instead working to inform consumers that there might be volatile ingredients of sunscreen that could foster the very dangers that they are trying to avoid.
At a news conference on the topic, Sen. Schumer stated that "the FDA must act now to protect consumers" from any dangerous propensities it may know about regarding vitamin A compounds in sunscreen, adding "[s]ummer is here, people are soaking up the sun and the FDA needs to immediately provide guidance and reassurance to consumers."
While one study is not nearly enough to overshadow the many benefits that sunscreen provides to consumers, it is interesting that the FDA is refusing to acknowledge that the study exists, especially when there is proven documentation of it. If vitamin A-based ingredients accelerated cancer cells 21% faster than other ingredients, that surely warrants further investigation into the chemicals and the potentially deadly consequences of using products containing them.
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