The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Response to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2015 Sunscreen Report


New York, NY (May 20, 2015) – Despite the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) recent claims about sunscreen ingredient safety, consumers should rest assured that sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate are safe and effective when used as directed. After exhaustive scientific review, both have been approved for use in the U.S. for more than 40 years.

Old research, where oxybenzone was force fed to immature rodents, suggested that the oxybenzone may cause allergic reactions and hormone disruption. However, in order for a human to attain a similar dose of the ingredient, one would have to apply sunscreen daily for up to 277 years. More recent human studies of oxybenzone showed absolutely no change in hormonal levels in individuals using sunscreens containing oxybenzone.  

Regarding retinyl palmitate -- as the EWG indicates in its 2015 Sunscreen Report -- despite the organization’s own claims, there is no conclusive research finding that this ingredient is hazardous in any way.

Sun protection, and sunscreen use specifically, are essential to skin cancer prevention — about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Further, regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent. The claims made by the EWG (which is not a scientific organization) are dangerous because they may dissuade the public from taking proper measures to protect themselves against the world’s most common cancer.  

Though regular sunscreen use is very important, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended a complete sun protection regimen that also includes seeking shade and covering up with protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

The Foundation also encourages the public to use the sunscreen that works best for them. For those with sensitivities to certain ingredients, natural sunscreens with active ingredients titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide (physical blockers) are available.

About The Skin Cancer Foundation

The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. Since its inception in 1979, the Foundation has recommended following a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade and covering up with clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use. For more information, visit SkinCancer.org.


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