A new study has found that some of the active ingredients in sunscreen get absorbed into our bloodstreams, and it happens quickly -- after just one day of use. These active ingredients are present at levels far above the US Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) recommendations "without a government safety inspection." Essentially, the ingredients have not been adequately tested, and we have no idea if it's safe to absorb them into our bodies at higher levels. It may be nothing, or these active ingredients may lead to ill effects. The fact is, we simply don't know.
But we do know that skin cancer is a very real threat, and no one is suggesting we stop using sunscreen. With increasing rates of skin cancer, it would be foolish to go unprotected. But Americans have gotten the message about protecting their skin, and it's not just for a day at the beach anymore. According to a CBS News story, thirty percent of women and fifteen percent of men now apply sunscreen regularly. So the FDA has proposed a new rule to regulate sunscreens as drugs, and they want more data on what these active ingredients can or cannot do to us. It's an acknowledgement that we should know more about what we're slathering onto our bodies, if we're going to use it all the time.
In the meantime, the disease (skin cancer) is worse than the cure -- in part because there's no evidence that sunscreen has any ill effects. All we've learned is that some of the active ingredients get absorbed into the bloodstream, and that might mean... nothing at all. So keep using sunscreen, and protect yourself from those harmful UV rays, while the FDA gathers more information.