European Commission issues sunscreen recommendations

In collaboration with the Press Association

The European Commission has issued new guidance on sunscreen products, which should help to reduce the number of people who develop skin cancer.

Figures show that the number of skin cancer cases has more than doubled since the early 80s, and over 2,000 people die from the disease every year in the UK.

The EU is therefore phasing in a new voluntary sunscreen labelling regime to help ensure that consumers are better equipped to make informed choices.

Rebecca Russell, Cancer Research UK's SunSmart manager, welcomed the Commission's action to simplify and improve sunscreen labelling across the EU.

"By defining standards for protection against UVA and UVB radiation, and showing this clearly on the label, people can be more confident in the protection they're getting," she said.

"We hope the new labelling requirements also help them to realise that no sunscreen, no matter how high the factor, can offer 100 per cent protection. We urge the Commission to monitor the uptake of these voluntary recommendations," she added.

Under the Commission's recommendation, claims such as 'sunblock' and '100 per cent protection' should no longer be used, as no sunscreen can provide full protection against UV radiation.

Verbal descriptions such as 'low', 'medium' and 'high' should be used alongside traditional SPF values, and products should display better information on protection against UV-A radiation, which causes premature skin ageing and interferes with the immune system.

Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou commented: "When applied properly, sunscreens can help to protect against skin cancer, but alone they are not enough.

"Other sensible precautions include avoiding long periods of exposure, staying in the shade at peak hours and protecting yourself with a hat and sunglasses."