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Safety of retinyl palmitate in sunscreens: A critical analysis

Published:August 09, 2010DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2010.07.015
      In its annual sunscreen report, the Environmental Working Group

      Environmental Working Group. Available from: URL: http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/. Accessed July 28, 2010.

      claimed that 41% of the sunscreens on the market contain retinyl palmitate (RP), an ester form of vitamin A. Based on its internal analysis of the data from the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the Environmental Working Group issued a health warning regarding the photocarcinogenic potential of sunscreens containing RP. This claim has received significant media coverage with many news organizations running stories such as “your sunscreen may give you cancer.” In fact, the media frenzy has prompted the senior Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address this issue. This has resulted in many individuals questioning the overall safety of sunscreens, and with some expressing strong reluctance to use sunscreens for photoprotection. In this short communication, we will provide a brief overview of the role of RP in skin physiology, critically analyze the currently available data, and conclude that there is no evidence that the inclusion of RP in sunscreens is photocarcinogenic in human beings.

      Key words

      Abbreviations used:

      FDA (Food and Drug Administration), NTP (National Toxicology Program), RP (retinyl palmitate), UV (ultraviolet)
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