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FDA Sunscreen Proposal Gives Consumers More Information

Changes would display products' UVA protection, provide new warnings on sun exposure

FRIDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new regulation to change the way sunscreens are labeled, tested and created. These new standards would particularly address these products' ability to protect consumers against ultraviolet A (UVA) light.

Both UVA and ultraviolet B (UVB) light are risk factors for skin cancer. The new proposal would create a rating system to let consumers evaluate the level of protection that these products offer against UVA, based on a scale of one to four stars corresponding to low UVA protection to highest available protection in an over-the-counter product.

Another change specified by the new regulation calls for a warning statement on sunscreens that would educate consumers about the health risks of UV exposure, and recommend limiting exposure to the sun and wearing protective clothing, in addition to using sunscreen. The proposed rule would also modify the methods of testing products' sun protection factor against UVB and allow new formulations of active ingredients.

"For more than 30 years, consumers have been able to identify the level of UVB protection provided by sunscreens using only sunburn protection factor or SPF values," said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., commissioner of food and drugs, in a prepared statement. "Under today's proposal, consumers will also now know the level of UVA protection in sunscreens, which will help them make informed decisions about protecting themselves and their children against the harmful effects of the sun."

The FDA will accept comments on the new rule until Nov. 26; these can be sent electronically or by fax or mail.

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