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FDA asked to probe sunscreen, cancer report

June 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate reports suggesting a possible link between skin cancer and a common chemical found in most sunscreens.Studies from the National Center for Toxicological Research and the National Toxicology Program have suggested a possible link between skin cancer and retinyl palmitate, a common ingredient found in sunscreen products.

While the research has been completed since July 2009, the FDA has yet to issue a final assessment or guidance on the data.

Schumer says that considering the serious implications of the studies and that consumers use sunscreen products to protect themselves from ultraviolet rays and skin cancer, consumers deserve to hear the FDA's evaluation of the data immediately. In light of the delays, Schumer is pushing the FDA to promptly address these studies and also announce a timeline for new sunscreen regulations.

"With the recent reports suggesting a possible link between skin cancer and a common chemical found in sunscreens, the FDA must act now to protect consumers in New York and across the nation," Schumer said. "Summer is here, people are soaking up the sun and the FDA needs to immediately provide guidance and reassurance to consumers. When it comes to the health and safety of the public, there is no room for delay."

As the summer season begins, Schumer is urging the FDA to work to make public their reviews and assessments of the data as soon as possible so as not to undermine consumer confidence in the protective value and safety of sunscreen products.

Retinyl palmitate is an ingredient found in most of the 500 most popular sunscreen products.

Scientists at both the NCTR and the NTP have been working over the last decade at the FDA's request in order to determine whether this Vitamin A derivative, retinyl palmitate, is safe to use in sunscreen products.

In one study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in retinyl palmitate-laced cream than animals treated with a cream that did not contain RP. While these studies have been completed for almost a year now, the FDA has not issued an assessment of ruling on either of them.