Sun Pill

It’s here: a product that claims to help protect you from sunburn…in pill form. The makers call this the “sun defense breakthrough of the decade.” So is it all that? Does it do what its makers claims it does? Some of the experts with whom we spoke aren'’t so sure. A company called pure pharmaceuticals has started marketing this: it’s called Sunpill. Dr. Perry Robins is a dermatologist who has been featured on the Sunpill website and promotional videos. He says Sunpill increases the amount of time you can stay in the sun without burning. “If it is fifteen minutes or thirty minutes depending on the day and your skin type this will increase it fifty percent so you will be able to go out forty five minutes before you get burned,” Dr. Robins states. The proof of the claim?

We asked the company for all the available research they have done. 17 subjects started the one study we received; 12 subjects completed it. “You really need larger studies before we can recommend this widely to our patients,” says Dr. Heidi Waldorf, a dermatologist at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

The founder of Sunpill, Bob Bell, says, “We’'ve done enough people we feel, just based on my experience and the tests that I’'ve used throughout my career the number of people is not such an issue for a protection product as it may be with a some internal drug treating a disease.” Among the twelve subjects, at week eight, Sunpill did indeed provide as much as a 144% increase in sun protection over no sunscreen…that was subject number 9. Still subject 14 had a 2.4 percent change--practically zero. Subject seven had actually a negative sun protection with Sunpill…-3.4 percent.

The simpler question: how do these oral ingredients including vitamins and a “proprietary blend” provide sun protection? For instance, is there any evidence Paba taken orally does that. Mr. Bell responded to the question this way: “It’s how they work um synergistically and immuno-support is a big area um and tissue support and collagen support, healthy skin that’s all the area that these work.”

 Dr. Marc Avram, Chief of Dermatology at Long Island College Hospital, says, “I think a lot of it is marketing, a lot of the products that are in this you can get currently in your health food store and in different areas, I don’t think there is anything other than this is being touted specifically as a sun protection product. From what I see in it seems like the products in it are not harmful but helpful, but we need to see more scientific data.”

The company says they are currently doing more studies and plan on publishing the data. They also say without question, this is not to be used alone without proper sun protection. none should walk away with a false sense of security, as Dr. Waldorf points out. This is not a replacement for sun avoidance, sun screen use, use of hat, and protective clothing. Sunpill costs around a dollar a pill, so a dollar a day. There’s certainly no evidence of anything harmful in it, you just have to decide if it’s worth the money.


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