FDA issues warning about pills claiming to protect you from the sun

The Food and Drug Administration issued a strict warning against companies that claim taking a pill can protect you from the sun's harmful rays. We talked to a local doctor who says this sounds good, but buyer beware.

"I think it's the most wonderful dream we could all have. We all are looking for that magic wand, that simple thing that doesn't require goo or time," said Dr. William Wooden, director of operative services for IU Health.

There's a shortcut for that, according to some companies. The pills are being marketed as an oral supplement to protect you from sun damage.

"They're supplements, they're not FDA approved, their efficacy is not proven and their safety is not proven," Wooden said.

The FDA accused four brands of misleading advertising and sent them a warning letter: Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Sunsafe Rx, Solaricare and Sunergetic. The FDA even listed one Sunergetic review that said “it’s basically an oral sunscreen…this would be especially useful for people who have had skin cancer, are at risk for skin cancer….”

"It not only sounds good, it markets to our fear. If someone has been thinking about skin cancer and using something to protect themselves, 'Oh it this will protect my cells that's great I'll prevent cancer,'" Wooden said.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and one in five Americans risk developing skin cancer in their lifetime. Wooden says this is nothing to treat lightly.

"And all these chemicals are ones that would be absorbing radiation or potentially manipulating our DNA. That's a scary place to play."

And until science proves these products work how manufacturers say they do, Wooden says stick to the basics.

"Skin cancer, and especially melanoma, has become epidemic and the key thing is that only proven protection is shade, sun avoidance and sunscreen."