I was a bit perturbed at one of my favorite science news feeds recently. Science Daily is a site for which the Beauty Brains have great respect and they recently ran this headline: “Sunscreen ingredient may increase cancer risk.”
Preliminary study shows potential sunscreen danger…
I was just as alarmed by this headline as you probably are – so I clicked the link to learn more. I found that the first paragraph of the article states that people rely on sunscreens for protection but they “may not be so safe after all.” Wow! That’s a pretty serious assertion, especially when you consider that sunscreens provide protection from skin cancer. So if new research has uncovered a serious danger in using sunscreens, or any other cosmetic ingredients for that matter, I’d rather the general public know about it sooner rather than later.
The ingredient of concern is zinc oxide one of the physical sunblocks (as opposed to the chemical sunscreens that usually get the negative press.) The body of the article then explained that this ingredient was found to release free radicals that kills lung cells. The author concluded the article by noting the researcher says clinical studies need to be done and that people should continue to wear sunscreen because it’s “better than no protection at all.”
…but more studies are needed before jumping to conclusions
Wait a minute. All these alarm bells are going off based on a single study that was done on lung cells immersed in a solution of zinc oxide? And there’s no evidence yet that topically applied zinc oxide presents a problem?
I was relieved to find out that there is no imminent danger but I was also annoyed by the seemingly irresponsible manner in which the information was presented. Rather than presenting a balanced perspective from the beginning, the author lead with the danger and then at the end of the article (which many people won’t even bother to read!) discloses that there’s no immediate cause for concern. I can see this article being used for scaremongering when a more moderate approach would probably have been better. Science Daily is usually better than this.
What do you think? Was the information presented in a fair light? Or does this article have an unjustified alarmist tone? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.
Image credit: doodlepress.co.uk