Senator urges release of sunscreen chemical data

Senator Charles Schumer speaks at the NAACP's Centennial Convention, in New York, July 12, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A senator on Sunday called on the FDA to reveal findings on a possible link between a chemical found in most sunscreens and skin cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been reviewing data from several studies on a potential link between retinyl palmitate (RP), a common sunscreen additive and cases of skin cancer, since July 2009, but has yet to issue any rulings or guidelines, Senator Charles Schumer said.

“With the recent reports suggesting a possible link between skin cancer and a common chemical found in sunscreens, the FDA must act now to protect consumers,” Schumer said at a news conference and in a later statement.

“Summer is here, people are soaking up the sun and the FDA needs to immediately provide guidance and reassurance to consumers,” the New York Democrat added.

The FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) have conducted studies that suggest a possible link between skin cancer and retinyl palmitate, Schumer said in calling for the FDA to provide its evaluation of the data and recommendations immediately.

He also pressed the agency for a time line for new sunscreen regulations.

Retinyl palmitate, a vitamin A derivative, is found in hundreds of the most popular sunscreen products.

One study found that tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in retinyl palmitate-laced cream than animals treated with a cream that did not contain RP, Schumer’s office said.

Reporting by Chris Michaud, Editing by Cynthia Osterman