Study: Sunscreen chemicals can stay inside you body for at least 24 hours after use

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(CNN) - It took just one day of use for several common sunscreen ingredients to enter the bloodstream at levels high enough to trigger a government safety investigation, according to a pilot study conducted by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, an arm of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Cropped Photo: Skin Cancer Foundation / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The study, published Monday in the medical journal JAMA, also found that the blood concentration of three of the ingredients continued to rise as daily use continued and then remained in the body for at least 24 hours after sunscreen use ended.

The four chemicals studied -- avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule and octocrylene -- are part of a dozen that the FDA recently said needed to be researched by manufacturers before they could be considered "generally regarded as safe and effective."

So, should you stop using sunscreen? Absolutely not, experts say.
"Studies need to be performed to evaluate this finding and determine whether there are true medical implications to absorption of certain ingredients," said Yale School of Medicine dermatologist Dr. David Leffell, a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology. He added that in the meantime, people should "continue to be aggressive about sun protection."

"The sun is the real enemy here," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, an advocacy group that publishes a yearly guide on sunscreens.

"It's not news that things that you put on your skin are absorbed into the body," Faber said. "This study is the FDA's way of showing sunscreen manufacturers they need to do the studies to see if chemical absorption poses health risks."