Sun cream manufacturers in class action over cancer risk

Los Angeles: Several of the world’s leading manufacturer’s of sun creams are being sued in a US court accused of exposing users to the risk of cancer.

In a lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court the makers of leading brands Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic, Banana Boat and Neutrogena are alleged to have made misleading claims about the effectiveness of their products.

It is being alleged by a group of US consumers that the advice given in the marketing of these creams gave a false reassurance that it was safe to spend long periods in the sun, resulting in a higher risk of cancer.

Recent UK studies have shown that some sun creams do not offer the protection factor stated on the pack. In addition scientists believe that prolonged sun bathing can mutate DNA which in turn may lead to cancer.

The defendants named in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, include Johnson & Johnson Inc, Schering-Plough Corp, Playtex Products Inc, Tanning Research Laboratories Inc, and Chattem Inc.

The suit focuses on labels that claim the sunscreens protect equally against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Documents lodged with the court say the products may protect against harmful UVB rays with shorter wavelengths. However, the skin remains exposed to UVA rays with longer wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin.

The suit also questions whether products which claim to be waterproof, or effective in water, offer the protection that is claimed, and alleges that parents have been misled into believing their children are protected by products specifically designed for them.

The case seeks to stop the defendants from engaging in allegedly misleading marketing practices.

It also seeks the refund of money ‘wrongfully acquired’, unspecified damages for injuries suffered, and punitive damages. Schering-Plough said the company had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on the specifics but said that labelling and advertising for all its products, including sun care, are developed in compliance with all applicable laws and FDA regulations.