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FDA: Sunscreen Absorbs Into Blood After One Day. Here’s What That Could Mean.

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cory watson attorneys sunscreen bloodstream cancer risk

Consumer alert! A recent FDA study found that the active ingredients in sunscreen can absorb into our bloodstreams within a few hours… what does this mean for you and your loved ones?

As a firm that works hard to protect consumers from faulty or dangerous drugs and products, we like to help keep our clients and the general public aware of consumer product news – and sunscreen is a product that we’ve all used.

Doctors and public health officials have long recommended that people use sunscreen to protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. But how safe are the sunscreens that so many people now use regularly?


In the U.S., sunscreen is classified as an over-the-counter drug. Like all of the other over-the-counter drugs that the Food and Drug Administration oversees, sunscreens should be studied to make sure they don’t affect user’s hormones, affect reproductive systems, or cause cancer.

However, this important safety testing has never been done on the active ingredients in sunscreen. Those chemicals were approved decades ago in the 1970s, before anyone suspected they could be absorbed into the body. Now we know for certain, it’s more than just a suspicion.

In the study, each of 24 people were asked to wear different formulations — a spray, a lotion or a cream — of commercially available sunscreens for four days, and the same amount was applied over 75% of each volunteer’s body surface four times a day.

Throughout the study period, researchers took blood samples from the participants to look for four common active ingredients which are used in different combinations in sunscreens: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule. The agency found all four of these ingredients are absorbed into the blood at levels that are worth testing further for possible cancer risk.

It only took a few hours after application for chemicals to infiltrate the bloodstream and shoot up to concentrations above the FDA’s toxicology threshold that triggers further safety testing.


At Cory Watson Attorneys, our experienced defective product lawyers fully support comprehensive safety testing before releasing dangerous, defective or misleading products to the market.

These test results could have serious impacts on sunscreen manufacturers and regulations going forward, and may change what options you’ll find on drugstore shelves in the next few years.

It remains important to avoid excessive sun exposure, and you certainly protect your skin against the sun’s UV rays. However, for those who are still concerned about the incomplete safety data, there are other ways to avoid damaging sun exposure this summer. Try staying out of the sun during its peak hours between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and wearing protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses.

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