No, ‘sunscreen pills’ cannot protect you from skin cancer

Courtney Colahan

A new trend that falsely claims to provide sun protecting benefits may be putting your health at risk.

“Sunscreen pills” claim to protect you from sun damage—just pop the tablet and enjoy the sun’s rays without worry. Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to companies marketing pills and supplements claiming to protect against sun damage. The FDA says, “There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen.” Companies touting such unfounded benefits are violating federal law and the FDA has instructed them to correct their faulty claims.

You are right to be concerned about your skin. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis and the most preventable cancer in the United States. Each year, more than 87,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma—the most dangerous form of skin cancer—and more than three million more are diagnosed with other types of skin cancer.

But there are healthy, proven ways to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays and prevent cancer. Be sure to wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, and stay in the shade whenever possible (especially during the sun’s peak hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Wear protective clothing and never use tanning beds or sun lamps.

The FDA urges everyone to be wary of products that seem too good to be true. Stick to trusted products with SPF levels marked on their labels as proof they have been tested for sun protection.

Learn more about how to prevent skin cancer or detect it early to help you and your family stay safe in the sun.