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HealthWatch: Sunscreen Label Changes

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- The government is revising rules regarding the use of sunscreen and keeping a tighter lid on claims made by makers of sun protection products, Dr. Max Gomez reports.

The FDA will require manufacturers to test sunscreens for protection against both types of ultraviolet rays. UVB rays cause burning, UVA rays cause wrinkling, and both cause cancer.

"You need broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection that will protect you against aging as well as skin cancer," said Dr. Ellen Marmur, Chief of Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

Sunscreens that don't protect against both UVA and UVB cannot be labeled "broad spectrum." If they do not protect against both types of rays and have an SPF under 15, they will have to carry new warning labels that say "This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."

As for SPF numbers that seem to get higher every year, the FDA wants to cap them at 50, because higher numbers provide minimal extra protection.

The government was also banning what it called exaggerated marketing claims like waterproof and sweatproof. Products can only use the term "water resistant."

Also the term "sunblock" will be phased out, as Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation explains, "because we don't want to give the false impression that complete sun protection is provided."

Resident Jason Flamendorf, with his fair skin and a family history of skin cancer, said the changes will be a huge help the next time he's looking for sunscreen.

"It can be confusing with all the brands out there and they come out with new varieties," he said. "They helped consumers make a more informed choice and done something to protect us."

Manufacturers have until next summer to make the changes, although many are expected to do it sooner.

What do you think of the sunscreen label changes? Sound off in our comments section below…

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