Vol. 91 June 1, 2013 Sunscreen Sense, Testosterone Hype


This year Consumer Reports (1) states that the according to their tests the maximum effective SPF is now 40. Paying for anything above that is wasted money. Two years ago Consumer Reports tests showed that any sunscreen with a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) over 30 gave no more protection than a 30. They also recommended that year-old sunscreen might have lost some of its effectiveness, so new sunscreen should be bought each year. New FDA regulations require the sunscreen to be labeled with a three-year expiration date. To be sure Consumer Reports recommends tossing out any leftovers after two years. New FDA regulations also now outlaw the term “sunblock”.

SPF refers only to protection against UVB rays. Those rays cause sunburn . “UVB for Burn” The UVA rays cause aging. “UVA for Aging”. Both kinds of rays can cause skin cancer. Only sunscreen labeled as “broad spectrum” can screen both types of rays.

Several manufacturers are now using nano-particles of zinc oxide in their sunscreens. Zinc oxide (the white goo lifeguards put on their noses) is a very effective sun block, but the FDA is cautious about the use of nano-particles because they are small enough to be absorbed through the skin. In fact, pharmaceutical companies are spending millions on R&D on nano-particle delivery patches for lots of drugs currently requiring injections.

The FDA is also cautious about the use of aerosol sprays of sunscreen. The fumes are easily inhaled and long-term studies of effects on lungs are not complete. Consumer Reports recommends spraying the sunscreen on your hands and then applying it; a literal obliteration of the spray’s alleged convenience. Certainly avoid using aerosol sprays on children.

If all else fails and you get sunburned, ”A plain yogurt mask for 30 minutes will take away the discomfort. Fat-free doesn’t work as well.” (2)…another small blow to nutritional political correctness.


The number of testosterone prescriptions and the money spent for testosterone have both nearly doubled in the past two years. The advertising costs for two testosterone drugs went from $14 million in 2010 to $107 million in 2012 helping the U.S. sales of them to reach almost $2.5 billion (yes, that is a “b”). All for a drug “whose benefits are overblown and whose risks are underappreciated”. (1) The American Urological Association has added testosterone therapy to its list of overused and potentially dangerous medical treatments.

$570 a month does NOT apparently buy you a better libido, better performance, or better sexual satisfaction. It CAN buy a man a higher risk of heart attacks and other cardiac events, more rapid growth of prostate cancer, reduced sperm counts. blood clots in the legs, and increased sleep apnea.

The level of testosterone in blood normally decreases with age. Unless a man has loss of libido AND is extremely fatigued, depressed, with facial and pubic hair loss, and decreased bone and muscle mass, testosterone therapy will not make a difference. Those symptoms add up to the specific diagnosis of hypogonadism, not mid-life crisis.

1. Consumer Reports Magazine July 2013
2. Boston Globe, Style, pg. 14 G , May 30, 2013

One Response to Vol. 91 June 1, 2013 Sunscreen Sense, Testosterone Hype

  1. Oops — I just purchased some SPF 100 cream — another sucker is born. You’ve got to admire the marketing of testosterone applied like deodorant — be manly and smell good!

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