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Roundup: Sunscreens With Higher SPFs; Ban on Flavored Tobacco; and FDA Crackdown

Sunscreen With SPF 100 Offers Better Protection Than SPF 50, New Study Finds

The value of sunscreen products with an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than 30 has been the subject of much debate, with some studies suggesting that higher SPFs may not provide much more protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation — as long as the sunscreen is applied properly and frequently enough.

But a new study [1] suggests that sunscreens with a higher SPF may be your best choice to avoid sunburn. Researchers compared SPF 50 versus SPF 100 on 200 skiers in Colorado. Their finding: the side of a skier’s face covered with SPF 50 sunscreen was 11 times more likely to burn compared to the side covered with SPF 100 sunscreen.

A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 should be adequate for most conditions, but many people don’t apply it the way that is required for maximum effect.

“The results of the current study demonstrate that the SPF 100+ sunscreen provided a level of enhanced sunburn protection that was clearly observable following a single period of exposure,” the study’s authors concluded.

Dermatologists advise patients to use SPF 30 or higher — depending on the expected period of time exposed to the sun and other factors — and to look for the words “broad spectrum.” This means it protects against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. The debate over the need for SPFs beyond 30 focuses on this issue: If you use it early, often, and liberally, a person can virtually get the same protection with an SPF 30 sunscreen as with SPF 100.

Sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher should be reapplied according to label instructions or at least every two hours – more frequently with sweating or if in the water, dermatologists say. Protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants also help protect from harmful UV rays.

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San Francisco is First U.S. City to Ban Sales of Flavored Tobacco Products

San Francisco residents this week voted overwhelmingly to ban flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and vape liquids, despite an aggressive campaign to stop the ban by the tobacco industry.

Proposition E was approved by 69 percent of voters, according to the Department of Elections. Proponents of Prop. E, including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, allege that flavored tobacco is used to target teenagers as future customers, making them more likely to take up cigarette smoking later on, according to public health officials.

Other U.S. cities have passed laws reducing access to flavored tobacco and flavored vaping liquids, but San Francisco is believed to be the first in the nation to approve an outright sales ban.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking into regulating the ingredients and flavors in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. More than 80 percent of middle- and high-school students who use e-cigarettes said they use them “because they come in flavors I like,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The use of e-cigarettes could be increasing the amount of harmful chemicals teens are inhaling. A newer device that looks like a USB flash drive is called the “Juul.” The “juice,” or liquid, that fuels the Juul comes in a range of flavors, including mango, cool mint and fruit medley, and these flavors are enticing kids, experts say.

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FDA Takes Action Against Websites Marketing Unapproved Opioids

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has ordered nine online networks, operating a total of 53 websites, to stop illegally marketing “potentially dangerous, unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid medications.”

Those illegal medications include versions of tramadol and oxycodone, the FDA says.

Companies that fail to correct the violations, as outlined in the warning letters, may be subject to enforcement action, including product seizure or injunction, the agency said.

“The FDA is taking additional steps to protect U.S. consumers from illicit opioids by targeting the websites that illegally market them and other illicit drugs,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., in a statement. “The Internet is virtually awash in illegal narcotics and we’re going to be taking new steps to work with legitimate internet firms to voluntarily crack down on these sales.”

Consumers who buy medicines from illegal online pharmacies may be putting their health at risk “because the products, while being marketed as authentic, may be counterfeit, contaminated, expired, or otherwise unsafe,” the FDA said.

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