NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Honolulu, HI, United States, 2006/08/03 - The use of nanoparticles in sunscreens is one of the most common uses of nanotechnology in consumer products. Well over 300 sunscreens on the market today contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide nanoparticles..
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world today, and the number of cases worldwide is growing each year. The single most important risk factor for basal and squamous cell carcinoma (the two most common forms of skin cancer) is prolonged sun exposure, so it’s not surprising that the manufacture of sunscreen is a US$400 million dollar industry (despite the fact that no one has ever determined that sunscreens actually prevent skin cancer.)
With that kind of money at stake, the sunscreen industry has become highly competitive. Short of proving that sunscreens actually prevent skin cancer, there are a few areas of sunscreen development that could stand improvement. One of the most common complaints about sunscreens is that they don’t rub into the skin very easily. When applied, their two most common ingredients – zinc oxide (ZnO) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) – give the skin a white tinge. If manufacturers could develop a less visible sunscreen, people would definitely buy it.
That’s where nanotechnology comes in. The use of nanoparticles in sunscreens is one of the most common uses of nanotechnology in consumer products. By replacing traditional forms of ZnO and TiO2 with nanoparticles of these substances, manufacturers can reduce the visibility of the cream.
Ironically, while consumers apply sunscreen to stay healthy, the use of nanoparticles in sunscreen may prove riskier than sun exposure itself. Recent studies show ZnO and TiO2 can induce the formation of free radicals when exposed to light – and this may damage cells. Preliminary investigation into the ability of ZnO and TiO2 nanoparticles to penetrate healthy skin has revealed conflicting results. Most studies have found that these nanoparticles do not reach the living cells. However, a few have suggested they do ("Toxic Potential of Materials at the Nanolevel"); and broken skin is ineffective as barrier for particles as large as 7,000 nm.
Read the full article on the Nanowerk website.
About Nanowerk: Nanowerk is a leading nanotechnology information portal. Apart from its unique Nanomaterial Database™, with over 1,300 products from 90 suppliers, it provides the most complete nanotech events calendar; hundreds of links to universities, labs, researchers, associations, networks and international initiatives involved in nanotechnology; daily news; downloadable reports; and much more. The site includes a daily “Spotlight” section featuring Nanowerk-exclusive reviews and summaries of cutting-edge nanotechnology research by guest authors and Nanowerk editors. Nanowerk also publishes the nanoRISK newsletter – a constructive contribution to the debate about the potential risks of nanotechnology.
By Michael Berger, Copyright 2006 Nanowerk LLC.