It seems like it was just this morning that I was writing about the dangers of teens and tanning, about how skin cancer rates are skyrocketing, and about how the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was advising that more needs to be done to protect young people from UV rays.
Isn't it ironic then that this afternoon I am writing about how another government agency — this time it's the Food and Drug Administration — has delayed new sunscreen guidelines that would have made it easier for consumers to understand, and therefore protect themselves from the sun?
Last summer, the FDA devised a new set of sunscreen labeling guidelines
that would clarify terms like "broad spectrum" and "water resistant," and ban the use of terms like "waterproof," "sweatproof" and "sunblock," that confuse consumers into thinking they are more protected than they are. The FDA gave sunscreen manufacturers six months to revise labels, a deadline that would have taken effect in less than one month.
But the FDA has now said it will give companies six more months
to change their labels. Smaller manufacturers will be given even more leeway and will have until December 2013 to make changes. The agency claims that without the extension, there would have been sunscreen shortages for the upcoming summer season.
So for at least the next few months, you need to be particularly vigilant about the sunscreen you use to protect your family. Keep in mind that products labeled "waterproof" or "sweatproof" still have to be reapplied continually, and products labeled as SPF 70 are probably no better at blocking the sun rays than those labeled SPF 50.