Warnings sought on sunscreens


WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration proposed yesterday that all sunscreens and tanning products be required to carry warnings about the dangers of sun exposure and that cosmetic products promoting tanning but offering no screen against the harmful rays of the sun display a warning that they do not protect against sunburn.

"There is overwhelming evidence that overexposure to radiation from the sun is a health hazard," FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler said in a statement. "Consumers should not have to guess how much protection, if any, they'll get from sunscreen and tanning products on the market."

The agency's proposal would require all products to carry statements about the sun's potential harm and the products' ability to protect users.

One statement that the FDA proposes to require on sunscreen products reads: "Sun Alert: The sun causes skin damage. Regular use of sunscreens over the years may reduce the chance of skin damage, some types of skin cancer and other harmful effects due to the sun."

Sunscreens and tanning products -- a $650 million-a-year market -- have been growing in use in recent years as health-conscious people have become increasingly aware of the risks of sun exposure. The dangers include premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

Skin cancer, to which ultraviolet radiation from the sun is considered a major contributing factor, is the most common form of cancer.

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