New study prompts concern about sunscreens and cancer

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by DEBORAH FELDMAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 11, 2010 at 7:46 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

SEATTLE - Warm temperatures are finally in the forecast, but a recent study by the Food and Drug Administration is causing some concern among people planning to spend time out in the sun.

The study found that the Vitamin A used in almost half of the roughly 500 sunscreens on the market may actually increase the growth of skin cancer.

Dr. Kim Gittere Abson is a dermatologist at the Polyclinic in Seattle, who read the findings of the study with interest.

"So this is a study that was conducted by the FDA that looked at mice using a form of Vitamin A called Retinal Palmitate" Abson explains. "And in the mice, that were just treated with the Vitamin A, versus the ones that were not, there was a 21% increase in skin cancer in those mice."

But, Dr. Abson points out the study has not yet been vetted by other experts, and that Vitamin A has been used in countless products like Accutain and Retin A for years.

"...and there's a wealth of information about Vitamin A and its potential risk for skin cancer," Abson says. "So I would just say that you would have to weigh the data. There's a lot of research versus one study."

Dr. Abson says worried consumers can easily find sunscreens without Vitamin A, and that most sun blocks like Titanium or Zinc tend to avoid it altogether. But her best advice is to simply avoid the midday sun, and to wear wide brimmed hats and clothing with SPF.

The FDA will review the data of the study and come out with an official position on it in January 2011. The American Academy of Dermatology has not weighed in on it either.

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