FDA Proposes New Labeling for Sunscreens

Manufacturers of sun screen products started using the current labeling system in 1978 where consumers were advised of the products’ SPF (sun protection factor) number. These SPF numbers masured UVB rays. The system has not changed since then in spite of a spike in skin cancer reports throughout the country. The new labeling would require sun screen manufacturers to test for and label their products for the deeper and more dangerous UVA rays that cause sun spots and wrinkles. However, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer. According to a story in the NY Times , health officials welcome the change. “The bottom line is this is terrific news for consumers,” said Dr. James M. Spencer, a dermatologist in St. Petersburg, Fla., specializing in skin cancer. “Now when you go to the drugstore and buy sunscreen, you will finally know what you are getting.”