Any safe sunscreens, self-tanners?

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Question from Tina: I wondered what sunscreens and even self-tanners you recommend using that do not contain the harmful chemicals that mimic hormones, ie, parabens, etc? Thank you.
Answers - Maria Theodoulou, M.D. We do not know the established harmful effects of any parabens at this time, or what harmful elements are contained in sun protection lotions or self-tanners. We do not know what the risks are, but if these products are used appropriately—not on the whole body, not every day—then it can be nice to have a tan on those exposed parts of the body when you're undergoing chemotherapy to avoid the chemo pallor.

It can be safe if used sparingly. There are times when you're going out, there's a special occasion, when you want to look particularly good, so using a product like this can give you that lift. Lotions which have SPF minimum of 30 have not been proven to be unsafe in patients with breast cancer. But we don't know if the more harmful effects of the sun are offset by this SPF. When sun protection is used, it should be applied at least 20 to 30 minutes before you go out in the sun to give you the most protection. If you're going to use a self-tanner like the Estée Lauder products for some nice occasion, use the ones that have some sun protection built into them.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Summertime Issues: Treatment and Personal Care featured Maria Theodoulou, M.D., Tamara Shulman, Ph.D., and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about the various summertime issues that relate to breast cancer treatment and personal care.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2005.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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