The sun brightens up our days but did you know, there is a dark side of the light it gives us?
Yes. it does.
The dark side of the sun is that the light it gives us contains ultraviolet radiation which is associated with causing most cases of skin cancer, known to affect one in five Americans over a lifetime. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the sun causes 90% of all nonmelanoma skin cancers. Most researchers also link the UVR to causing 65% of all melanomas.
Each year, an estimated 3.5 million or more new cases occur in the US of the nonmelanoma skin cancers basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Moreover, Photoaging, or UV-induced skin aging, is another long-term result of sun exposure.
While not threatening to life, it is threatening to quality of life which is all attributed to this dark side of the sun. Excessive unprotected time in the sun leads to premature wrinkling, sagging, a leathery texture and hyperpigmentation which are the so-called “aging spots” or “liver spots”.
Now, what pops up in our minds when we read all of this is that what could possibly protect us from the harm directed at us?
Well, the answer is a simple, one word, magical formula: SUNSCREEN!
That’s right. UVR that penetrate into the skin reaches the DNA and causes damages that may lead to mutations (abnormalities) in genes involved in the development of skin cancer. Therefore, sunscreens that absorb or block UVR serve an important protective function. Now, sunscreens come in many forms, from the standard lotions to sprays that help to produce a safety layer around the human skin resulting in minimized penetration of UVR into the DNA. However, there is a new popular debate that assumes “Sunscreen Pills” to be way more effective than the traditional sunscreen forms.
Yes you heard right- sunscreen pills are a thing and are being very widely distributed in the market. There is no hard and fast rule for what, exactly, constitutes a sunscreen pill. However, the companies currently selling them claim that these pills are as effective in blocking out the sun’s UV rays as regular sunscreen. This claim, however, is baseless.
To Apply or To Swallow? What’s Better?
Sun protection through sunscreens has a mechanism. Applicable traditional sunscreens work by combining organic and inorganic active ingredients. Inorganic ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium oxide reflect or scatter ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Organic ingredients like octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) or oxybenzone absorb UV radiation, dissipating it as heat. The Sun Protection Factor or SPF measures how effectively the sunscreen formula limits skin exposure to UV rays that burn the skin. The higher the SPF the more protection the sunscreen will provide against UV rays. This mechanism, however, is just not possible to be achieved by the use of mere pills.
The mechanism of protection against skin cancer utilized by the pills revolves around the use of Polypodium leucotomos, an extract of a Central American fern plant. Studies have shown the fern extract increases the amount of time it takes for skin to burn when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. Polypodium leucotomos acts as an antioxidant, so it protects the skin from oxidative damage caused by sun exposure. In addition, European studies have shown Polypodium leucotomos can reduce sun sensitivity in people with polymorphous light eruption, a condition that causes an itchy rash when the skin is exposed to the sun. However, what remains the point of debate and a discouraging factor is that Polypodium leucotomos cannot be given a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating because the product is not applied to the skin and the effectiveness of the fern extract pill provides significantly less protection.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers to steer clear of these so-called sunscreen pills. Warning letters have been sent to companies for misleading their consumer base with false claims of dietary supplements which can provide sun protection. The FDA has been trying to remind consumers that there is no pill or capsule which can serve as an adequate substitute to sunscreen. The specific companies which were called out by the FDA include the makers of Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Sunsafe Rx, Solaris are, and Sunergetic, which were all asked to correct their violations and review their previous claims. These companies are guilty of putting the health of their customers at risk. They are giving them a false sense of security by allowing them to believe that their pills are sufficient protection from harmful UV rays. Consumers place their trust in such companies and for these companies to in turn jeopardize their wellbeing, is nothing short of appalling.
While the FDA instructed these companies to correct their advertisements and reverse the damage they’ve done, there is always the possibility of other companies who are doing the same thing. These companies may not be on the FDA’s radar yet and so their activities continue to go unchecked. The supplements industry is one that is not very regulated. Although the FDA has the authority to call companies out for making fake claims about their products, having FDA approval before selling their pills and tablets is not a compulsion for such companies. Their drugs are at large in the market and scores of people are being fooled into purchasing products that are of no real benefit to them. So consumers must educate themselves and beware of any claims made by such companies.
A Final Word
The fact of the matter is and always will be that sunscreen pills cannot protect against sun damage, like burns or cancer, and should not be used in place of typical sunscreen products. Only topical treatments such as lotions, creams and sprays have been tested and approved by the FDA in protecting skin from the sun’s radiations. Sunscreen pills are a massive waste of money, and may have dire consequences if people continue to believe that they are protecting themselves from sunburns or skin cancer by using these pills.
So, take Abudo’s word on this: don’t take a risk on your health; be vigilant in finding out which products actually work and which don’t.
Leave no room for fallacies & Kickstart a better living.