Reported July 2010
WASHINGTON, DC. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Do you know what's in your sunscreen? According to one research group, not knowing your suncreen may mean you and your family are not as protected as you think. Listen up before you lather up about what should and shouldn't be on your sunscreen label.
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It may be sunny and warm outside, but the fun is happening inside at the Hardtke house. Dan Hardtke is fighting melanoma -- the deadliest form of skin cancer.
"I had a mole right in front of my ear,” Hardtke told Ivanhoe.
Doctors removed his ear to prevent the spread.
"I have had four relapses,” Hardtke explained. “ It doesn't bode well, but it hasn't spread, so I'm still in the game."
You may think lathering on sunscreen will keep you safe, but do you know what chemicals are in your sunscreen? Researchers with the environmental working group, or EWG, studied over 2,000 types of sunscreens and found some may be better than others when it comes to protecting us.
"You want to look out for sunscreens with oxybenzone," Jane Houlihan, an Environmental Engineer with the Environmental Working Group in Washington, DC, said.
While the health risks of oxybenzone aren't clear and long-term studies still need to be done, some research shows oxybenzones’ affect is more than skin deep.
"So the concern is this is a chemical that definitely absorbs into the body,” Houlihan explained.
Instead, the EWG recommends using suncreens with zinc and titanium, which provides better protection from the sun's damaging UVA rays. Another concern is sunscreens you spray on.
"When you spray a sunscreen, you're very likely inhaling particles that may or may not be safe,” Houlihan said.
To reduce you risk, experts say hold your breath while spraying it on. But the most important tip is to always use sunscreen and reapply often.
Dan is fighting hard to beat his disease. His three girls aren't giving him any other choice.
"I just don't think this is the end for me,” Hardtke said.
Sunscreen researchers also say don't be fooled by a seal of approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation. According to the EWG, the organization lends its seal to any products with an SPF over 15, and companies that make a $10,000 donation.
This report has been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
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