Google's AI Skin App & Skin Cancer

Google Released a New AI-powered App to Identify Common Skin Conditions

Google Health has new tools, which will allow users to identify different dermatology issues like skin cancer through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a smartphone camera. 

In order to use this web-based application users will have to take three images from different angles of their skin, nail, or hair concern using their smartphone’s camera. The new features for Google Health were announced at the Google I/O 2021 keynote on May 18. The AI tech will be arriving as a Web-based application that will be launched later in the year.

Google Health Tweet commercial:

Google will ask questions about the users’ skin type, the duration of the issue, and other symptoms that will help the tool narrow down the possibilities. The AI tool has been developed using de-identified data from 65,000 images and case data of diagnosed skin conditions. It will draw from its knowledge of 288 conditions to give you a comprehensive list of possible matching conditions, so then you can further research them. 

Commenting on the dermatology AI tool, Google states that every year “almost ten billion Google Searches are related to skin, nail and hair issues. Two billion people worldwide suffer from dermatologic issues, but there’s a global shortage of specialists.”

Through a new study, the search giant found “the right deep learning system can be used to accurately identify patients who are likely to have active TB based on their chest X-ray.”

The tech giant is also interested in sleep health as its second-generation Nest hub includes a sleep sensing feature that uses radar-based sleep tracking in addition to an algorithm for cough and snore detection [1]

Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide.
  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
  • When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
  • The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for nonmelanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma [2].

Indoor Tanning

  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen.
  • Indoor tanning devices can emit UV radiation in amounts 10 to 15 times higher than the sun at its peak intensity.
  • The cost of direct medical care for skin cancer cases attributable to indoor tanning is $343.1 million annually in the U.S.
  • More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning, including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas, and 6,200 melanomas [3]

Exposure to Chemicals in Sunscreen

Study linking Oxybenzone (BP-3) and mammary tumor growth

In a new animal study, scientists have explored the effects a combination of diet and exposure to the chemical benzophenone-3 (BP-3) has on mammary gland tumors.

The study, published in the journal Oncotarget, lays the ground for further research to confirm the findings and to explore the extent to which they are likely to be reproducible in humans.

Chemicals known as ultraviolet (UV) filters are added to sunscreens to absorb or block UV radiation from the sun. UV filters can offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Ultraviolet filters are regularly used in cosmetics for sun protection purposes, and in other products like plastics, toys, or furniture finishes to limit UV degradation. People may be exposed to these chemicals when food comes into contact with plastics that contain UV filters.

These findings suggest that BP-3 exposure may have adverse consequences in mammary tumorigenesis. They point to a need for further studies of BP-3 in both animal models and humans as a potential risk factor in breast cancer.

They also point to the more general need to evaluate endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the context of varying diets. Future studies are needed to identify the mechanistic basis for BP-3 effects on mammary tumorigenesis and how dietary fat interacts with BP-3 to alter outcomes [4].

BP-3 was detected in 96% of the population of the United States between 2003 and 2012. A recent study found that a single heavy application of sunscreen could exceed the point at which BP-3 becomes of toxicological concern. In this study, they also found that there was an increasing trend of urinary BP3 concentration since 2005–2006 [5].

Within the past year, the European Commission has published preliminary opinions on the safety of three organic UV filters, oxybenzone, homosalate, and octocrylene. The Commission found current human exposure levels to oxybenzone to be unsafe and proposed a concentration restriction of 2.2 percent – lower than the limited amount allowed in U.S. sunscreens, which is up to 6 percent.

Several countries ban the sale of sunscreens that contain this ingredient, because it may be harmful to aquatic life. A study found that 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone (2H4MBP) and metabolites were detected in rat plasma after exposure through the diet [6]


Homosalate is an organic UV filter widely used in U.S. sunscreens. The FDA has proposed that there is insufficient data to evaluate whether it is safe and effective to use in sunscreens. Homosalate has been found to penetrate the skin, disrupt hormones and produce toxic breakdown byproducts over time.

An opinion from the European Commission found that homosalate was not safe to use at concentrations up to 10 percent and recommended a maximum concentration of 1.4 percent, because of concerns for potential endocrine disruption. The FDA allows U.S. sunscreen manufacturers to use it in concentrations up to 15 percent.


Currently, the FDA suggests, in 2019,  there is insufficient data to determine whether it can be classified as safe and effective. Octocrylene has been linked to aquatic toxicity with the potential to harm coral health and is often contaminated with the known carcinogen benzophenone.

The European Commission recently concluded that although there was some evidence of octocrylene’s endocrine-disrupting potential, current use concentrations up to 10 percent were considered safe.

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide 

Mineral sunscreens are made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, usually in the form of nanoparticles. The FDA proposed that both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide be classified as safe and effective. Evidence suggests that few if any zinc or titanium particles penetrate the skin to reach living tissues.

Most research suggests that the nanoparticles don’t cross skin but inhaling the agent can cause danger. Don’t use sunscreens that have these two ingredients in spray sun sunscreen. 

Learn more about this skin app by watching the full episode, here 👇


00:00 – Intro
00:35 – Episode Intro
01:35 – Google’s AI Skin App
03:00 – When Apps become a part of your health routine
03:58 – It checks your skin and nails’ health
04:50 – Is this AI skin app smarter than dermatologists?
07:35 – Skin Cancer
09:15 – Does exposure to the sun really cause skin cancer?
09:55 – A revolving door
10:50 – The problem with tanning beds
14:53 – Exposure to chemicals in sunscreens
17:46 – Sunscreens are a risk factor for breast cancer
18:25 – BP3 is detected
19:20 – Fat, sick, and nearly dead
19:45 – Different regulations in the United States and Europe
22:27 – Born in a world where all is “acceptable”
24:00 – Finding balance
25:00 – Titanium oxide in sunscreen
27:10 – The Science back then
29:15 – Spreading consciousness to people
29:20 – Topic summary and closing

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