After a thorough assessment of the current research, the Canadian Cancer Society believes that oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and parabens in sunscreen do not pose a cancer risk.
Chemicals in sunscreen
Some advocacy groups say that certain chemicals in sunscreens are harmful and may increase your risk of developing cancer. The research so far on oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and parabens does not show that they can cause cancer and none of these chemicals has been classified as a cancer-causing substance by any major scientific organization.
The Society is committed to sharing important information about cancer risk to Canadians and we will continue to closely monitor research in this area. We will also track recommendations for sunscreen use by other regulatory agencies that protect your health and the environment. The Canadian Cancer Society supports the use of any sunscreen products that are approved for sale in Canada.
There have also been some studies that suggest people who use sunscreen have a higher risk of developing skin cancer compared to people who do not use sunscreen. Scientists don’t think this increased risk is caused by any chemical – it comes from the fact that people who use sunscreen spend more time in the sun than people who don’t. Also, these people may not be applying sunscreen properly. Scientists are also looking at whether people who use sunscreen have lower vitamin D levels, which may increase the risk of developing cancer.
Being safe in the sun is still the best way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Protect yourself when the sun is at its strongest, cover your skin with clothing, wear a hat and sunglasses, use a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher and do not use indoor tanning equipment.
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.