A recent recall on certain brands of sunscreen that could potentially contain a cancer-causing ingredient has sent some consumers into a panic and forego applying sunscreen altogether. One local health expert stresses the recall does not mean all sunscreens are deemed unsafe, and not using sunscreen at all is just as detrimental to your health.
In July, Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall of several sunscreens including certain aerosol sunscreens by brands Aveeno and Neutrogena that may be contaminated with benzene, a chemical compound found in crude oil and gasoline that is a known carcinogen.
Dr. Sandria Taquania Vernon, who practices family medicine with Riverside Health System, suggests that consumers compare the sunscreens they use to those listed on the recall and discard any sunscreens in question.
“Take a look at the list, compare it to what you have, and then have a talk with your doctor and see what the risks are,” Vernon said.
Vernon said that while news of the sunscreen recall is disheartening, it doesn’t mean consumers should stop using sunscreen completely. Sunscreens not on the recall list are still safe.
“You should make sunscreen a part of your daily routine,” Vernon said. “It doesn’t matter if it is in the middle of the winter or a cloudy day, the sun is still out. Any part of your body not covered by clothing should have sunscreen. This includes your ears and in between your fingers and toes.”
Sunscreen should always be worn to avoid the possibility of skin cancer. Consumers should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply every two hours.
In addition to sunscreens on the recall list, consumers should also toss any sunscreen that is past its expiration date, as there is no guarantee the SPF will be as effective as it states.
“But if you are wearing sunscreen as often as you should be, then should not reach its expiration date,” Vernon said.
An investigation into how the recalled sunscreens may have contained benzene is ongoing.