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Before you slather that bottle of sunscreen all over you or your little one, you may want to take a couple of minutes to read this.

It seems that the sunscreen you trust to prevent cancer could possibly be causing it!

According to new research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, new research that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, suggests that the chemicals in sunscreen don’t just sit on top of the skin, they absorb in the bloodstream. The chemicals that have been tested — avobenzone, ecamsule, octocrylene, and oxybenzone — are widely used in most commercial sunscreens. Even though the FDA isn’t saying that the ingredients are harmful, they have been found to be absorbed at levels higher than previously believed and there is evidence suggesting that some of the ingredients may raise the risk of health issues, such as hormone disruption and cancer.

How the researchers determined this was through a study whereby 24 participants were instructed to apply one of four different kinds of sunscreen spray, lotion or cream four times per day for four days on all areas that wouldn’t be covered by a swimsuit. They then measured the concentration of the four different active ingredients in the participants’ blood. If the absorption exceeds 0.5 ng/mL, the FDA recommends “nonclinical toxicology assessment including systemic carcinogenicity and additional developmental and reproductive studies.” In other words, “if that stuff gets into your blood stream, we need to do more tests to determine if they’re bad for you.”

According to the results, for all ingredients, the levels of all chemicals greatly exceeded that limit on the first day of the study. Three of the ingredients remained in the bloodstream for seven days! With Oxybenzone, which has been found along with other sunscreen ingredients in breast milk, plasma concentrations reached the threshold within two hours after a single application and exceeded 20 ng/mL on day 7 of the study.

However, Theresa Michele, M.D., director of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products and one of the study’s authors explains, “The fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body does not mean the ingredient is unsafe, rather, this finding supports FDA’s call to determine the safety of sunscreen ingredients for repeated use.”

So what should we all do?

For starters, don’t stop using sunscreen.

Just be smart about which one(s) you put on your body.

Read ingredients! And buy organic when you can.

For a good place to get the skinny on safe sunscreens, check out these Environmental Working Group articles here and here.

With a little education and diligence, there’s no reason to miss out on the summer fun!