Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Skin Cancer or Sunscreen Cancer?

Skin cancer rates are on the rise.  Many years ago, I recall skin cancer was 10 times as frequent in Texas as it was in Alberta according to the scholarly journals, and the obvious conclusion was that the intensity of the rays in the lone star state was the cause.  In fact, there is a boatload of research that links skin cancer to sun exposure.  Yours truly (lazy by nature and quick to tan thanks to genetics) has rarely been persuaded to slather on anything other than the occasional spilled beer - unless the wind is up and I'm sailing for some distance under a blazing sun.  (In actual fact I much prefer staying under an umbrella with a cold one when on the beach.)  It occurred to me about ten years ago that sales of sun block probably paralleled those of skin cancer rates - and thus a natural question to ask would be whether sun block could be causing rather than preventing skin cancer.  And, facetiously of course, I stated as much upon more than one occasion.  Imagine my surprise when I heard a news story reporting that the FDA has found that a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, present in about 40% of all sunscreens, may accelerate the development of skin cancer!  You can read more, including a list of good and bad sun goops at www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/.