Burned by Sunscreen?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times columnist for the Well column and blog, sifts through the conflicting information on suncreen protection.


Tara Parker-Pope

Comments [18]

Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times from New York

I apologize that there was not more time to discuss the unique skin health issues African Americans face.I didn't say African Americans shouldn't wear sunscreen.I said sunscreen use does not appear to be the most pressing skin health concern for African Americans.According to the American Academy of Dermatology, studies of melanoma in African Americans have shown that the condition most often develops on body parts NOT typically exposed to the sun.Melanoma incidence in African Americans is much lower than in Caucasians, however African Americans have higher fatality rates, likely because of later diagnosis.The AAD says 90 percent of Caucasian patients develop melanoma on sun-exposed parts of the skin, but only 33 percent of African-American patients in sun-exposed areas. In African Americans, melanoma shows up on NON-sun-exposed skin, such as feet, nails, and the mucous membranes of the mouth, nasal passages or genitals. This is why a sunscreen campaign, as suggested by the reader, is likely not the solution. Awareness is needed about the unique skin issues faced by African Americans and the need for regular skin exams that include special emphasis on the feet, hands, nails and on non-sun-exposed areas. Add in the fact that there is a surge of rickets in African American infants due to a lack of vitamin D, and you can see why advice about skin and sun issues for this community is complex. I agree that sun and skin issues for people of color certainly warrant more discussion.

Aug. 05 2008 12:06 AM
ileen from manhattan

In response to #3, babies under six months old shouldn't wear sunscreen, and correspondingly shouldn't be outside in direct sunlight without being covered by hat/clothing. Until the baby is old enough for sunscreen, stay on the shady side of the street & under trees when you take it outside.

Aug. 04 2008 12:54 PM
James from Gramercy

I just heard your expert say that black people shouldn't be using sunscreen because they won't make proper amounts of vitamin D.

As a black person, my family and I choose to use the products because we DO get burned if we don't apply the sun screen. I think that information about not making enough vitamin D in the summer and rickets is nonsense. Does that mean we're without vitamin D and full of rickets every winter? I'd like an expert on the show in the future that could speak to issues on darkly colored humans as well as light ones. WNYC's supposed to address all of our needs.

Aug. 04 2008 11:01 AM
cori from NJ

Lifetime sun exposure without burning is actually associated with a reduction in melanoma.

It's the vitamin D which is a powerful protohormone with powerful anticancer properties.

Aug. 04 2008 10:58 AM
exlege from brooklyn

what are the environmental effects of the chemicals in sunscreen being washed off into water (lakes)?

Aug. 04 2008 10:58 AM
Anne from Manhattan

I used to live in Australia, where they have a lot of skin cancer. To try to help reduce the risks to the public they have a nationwide motto for staying safe in the sun: "Slip, Slop, Slap". Slip on some sunglasses, Slop on some sunblock, slap on a hat.

Aug. 04 2008 10:57 AM
Bobby from Montreal

What I love about the EWG’s sunscreen roundup are the specifications on how much of the UVA/UVB spectrum each chemical agent blocks. Consumers cannot be smart consumers without this information as companies claim up and down that they provide broad-band protection when it often is not the case.

Aug. 04 2008 10:57 AM
C Heron from NJ

Everything you need to know about sun exposure, vitamin D and cancer:

Aug. 04 2008 10:56 AM
the truth HAPPY BIRTHDAY SENATOR OBAMA!! from Atlanta/New York

Your guest is clearly misinformed, she is incorrect to say there is not concern in the Black community or other communities with larger amounts of melanin in the skin. She is incorrect to say there is no concern there. Clearly she is a cloumnist and not a medical professional. She should have consulted with a dermitologist and get more information before coming on air.

Aug. 04 2008 10:56 AM
susan from northport, ny

are the organic, natural suncreens better than the others? We use "California Baby" brand on our kids and the kids never get burned and also they don't seem to react to this with rashes like the others...

Aug. 04 2008 10:56 AM

does using sunscreen cause pores to be clogged and lead to skin problems?

Aug. 04 2008 10:55 AM
Jenny from Manhattan

Your guest has not represented the report as accurately as she might. (Why don't you talk with the EWG folks?)

1) The EWG report did not say avobenzine is dangerous, just unstudied, and recommends that to be cautious people can use many sunscreens that don't have it.

2) Further, they listed 10 common brands that they consider safe--I recognize a few of them.

3) EWG said the danger with spray is that people breathe it. Thus spraying it on your kid while he/she is running away seems kind of dangerous.

Question: Is your guest qualified to talk about the effects of sunscreen on vitamin D?

Aug. 04 2008 10:55 AM
maggie from morristown nj

Whatever happened to PABA (paramenicibenzoic acid --sp?) which is a plain old B vitamin and totally harmless? That used to be the only available sunscreen when they werte first introduced around 30 years ago.

Aug. 04 2008 10:55 AM

I've heard that sunscreens expire, due to instability of the active ingredients. Does that apply to sunscreens with zinc or titanium as the active ingredients?

Aug. 04 2008 10:51 AM
OJ from Manhattan

There's recent chatter about the neccessity of sun and that we may be doing ourselves too much harm but staying out of the sun too much, depriving ourselves of Vitamin d./... what is it? Sun or not? I do agree with O that staying out of the sun to stay young looking. I am almost 35 but I look like I'm 26. I was a freak about wearing a hat and using sunscreen since mid-20's

Aug. 04 2008 10:48 AM
Lauren from Brooklyn

BURNING QUESTION!! (harr, harr) I have a 6 mos old and I hear confusing information. Do I put it on her or not? If so, can you recommend a type? I have heard good things about "California Babies"?

Aug. 04 2008 10:47 AM
Dwayne from Prospect Heights

They should push sun screen more for black people. Despite being adapted to deal with the harmful rays of the sun better than their Caucasian and east Asian counterparts, African Americans aren't immune to the negative affects of the sun and there's very little awareness of that.

Aug. 04 2008 10:46 AM
O from Forest Hills

Don't be in the sun too much it will keep your skin looking younger and use Nicole Miller moisturizer and face wash!

Big difference.

Aug. 04 2008 10:43 AM

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