You're Getting Ripped Off (and Cancer Too!)

Many daily mosturizing creams lack necessary ingredients to protect against UV-A rays

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) According to a new study, many daily moisturizing creams that claim to offer UV protection actually lack the ingredients necessary to provide sufficient protection against UV rays.

Products that have UV filters often display the sun protection factor (SPF) on the label. However, there are no regulations that manage the testing and labeling of sunscreens. As a consequence, the level of UV-A protection in many daily moisturizing creams is unknown.

In light of this unknown, Steven Wang, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and colleagues set out to measure the UV-A protection of 29 popular facial day creams that advertise UV coverage. The researchers assessed the facial creams for adequate amounts of the protective ingredient zinc oxide and a combination of avobenzone and octocrylene.

The researchers found that six of the analyzed products lacked any active ingredient necessary for UV-A protection. Sufficient amounts of zinc oxide were found in only 3 products. Although 16 products contained avobenzone, only 3 products contained adequate amounts of octocrylene. Overall, only six products out of the 29 had enough of the proper ingredients to provide satisfactory UV-A protection.

Skin cancer is the most prevalent class of cancer in the United States, affecting more than 2 million new patients per year. Long-term exposure to both UV-A and UV-B rays can lead to skin cancer as well as other conditions such as premature skin aging and eye damage.

The study had some limitations, mainly that the researchers did not assess the effectiveness of each cream. They analyzed only the ingredients. Nevertheless, the authors conclude that their study shows that daily moisturizing creams must provide better UV-A protection, especially because many consumers use the daily creams as their only protection against the harmful rays of the sun.

The findings were published as a research letter in the Archives of Dermatology.

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Review Date: 
January 24, 2011
Last Updated:
January 25, 2011