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Don't forget to pack the sunscreen, says Euro-MP

July 16, 2008 9:27 AM

Before many of us set off on our summer holidays, we should make sure we have the right sunscreen to protect us from sunburn or potentially, skin cancer. A new labelling regime introduced by the European Union will help us decide what we need, says a local Lib Dem Euro-MP.

New EU rules on sunscreen product labelling have applied since the start of 2008. These include a ban on terms such as 'sun block' or '100% protection' (no product can offer this) and standard logos for UV-A protection which causes skin-ageing and can contribute to skin cancer risk.

Speaking today, local Euro-MP Liz Lynne, who is Co-Chair of "MEPs against Cancer" in the European Parliament, said:

"Rates of skin cancer in England have shot up by 46 per cent in just seven years - making it the fastest growing cancer.With so many of us heading to warmer places over the summer, it is vital that we are clued up about what protection we need to enjoy the sun without being harmed by it.

"A new EU wide labelling system should now make it easier for customers to directly compare the effectiveness of sun screen products and puts paid to false advertising claims that any one product can provide 100% protection.

"But of course taking care in the sun is more than taking the right bottle. Sunburn doubles the chance of skin cancer, so applying cream regularly, avoiding the sun at peak times and covering up all help reduce the risks.


Notes to Editors

The improved labelling involves:

No more claims such of "sun block" or "100% protection" as no sunscreen products can provide for a full protection against UV radiation.

Standardised verbal descriptors ("low" - "medium" - "high" and "very high" protection) to be used alongside traditional SPF (sun protection factor indicators)

Better labelling of UV-A protection: while UV-B radiation is the cause of "sun-burn", UV-A radiation causes premature skin-ageing and interferences with the human immune system. Both types of radiation are important contributors to the skin-cancer risk. The so-called 'sun protection factor (SPF)' only refers to equal levels of sunburn (UV-B radiation) and not to similar effects from UV-A radiation. Sunscreen products with only UV-B-protection may provide a false sense of safety because they let hazardous UV-A radiation reach the skin.

Industry is introducing a standardised UV-A-seal on its product labels, indicating a quantified minimum UV-A-protection which increases in parallel with an increasing sun protection factor, based on a standardised testing method.

Further advice can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/citizen/my_holidays/sunscreens_en.htm