FDA issues warning about 'sunscreen pills'

Posted at 7:47 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 11:28:46-04

You use sunscreen to help keep from getting burned but could you just pop a pill to protect you? Yes, they're out there, pills promising to protect your skin from the damaging sun rays. 

If it sounds too good to be true, the Food and Drug Administration says it is.

FDA officials sent out a letter to this month to five different companies that are marketing pills that are supposed protect consumers from the sun. The FDA says the claims aren't true.

Dr. Fade Mahmoud is with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Mesa. He says he's shocked the supplements are so accessible.  

"I mean, it's very alarming to me because these pills - they give a false sense of security to the patient," said Doctor Mahmoud. 

The doctor is afraid if the public buys into the claim, it could lead to more skin cancer cases, numbers that aren't going down in some demographics. 

Doctor Mahmoud says women, ages 18 to 39, have seen a significant jump in the number of melanoma cases - up 800 percent from 1970 to 2009. Sadly, Dr. Mahmoud says about 40 percent of all melanoma patients will die from the disease.

Regency Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Dr. Bett Hinderks Davis says the supplements are meant to be used with a topical sunscreen, sun avoidance and protective clothing.

While they're not suggested as sunscreen alternatives, some like Heliocare and Nicotinamide, offer additional benefits. Dr. Davis lists some benefits such as protecting DNA in the skin, decreasing some skin UVB damage, decreasing risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in patients with a history, and more.

So as for now, until there's a magic pill, doctors say sunscreen is still the best course of action.