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Does Sunscreen Help Prevent Skin Cancer

Sun Protection Is Still Necessary

How to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer

If youâre nervous about using sunscreen, it isnât the only way to stay safe. But a recent survey suggests that many of us donât do enough to protect ourselves from skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology surveyed 1,000 people and found that one-third of them didnât know about basic steps, even ones as simple as seeking shade, that can reduce the risk.

The younger the respondent, the less likely they were to understand the connection between sun exposure and skin cancer. More than half of those in Generation Z, born after 1996, and millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, believe that a base tan will prevent sunburns. And 71% of Gen Z respondents believe a base tan will protect them from skin cancer, when in fact the majority of melanoma cases can be attributed to sun exposure.

The survey did find that people know they need to protect themselves from the sun — 97% said they feel itâs important. And 85% understand that too much sun can damage their skin, with 66% saying they wish theyâd done more to protect their skin when they were younger. But awareness plummets when it comes to the link between sun exposure and skin cancer. Among Gen Z respondents, 42% didnât understand the connection. Millennials were only slightly better, with 37% unaware. Just five blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 increases melanoma risk by 80%.

What Type Of Sunscreen Should You Use

With so many choices, how do you pick a sunscreen thats right for you? The Skin Cancer Foundation believes that the best sunscreen is the one you are most likely to use, so long as it provides safe and effective protection, and is broad spectrum with an SPF 15 or higher. Learn about your options to make an informed choice that best suits your needs. The happier you are with your sunscreen, the more consistently youll use it.

Sunscreen ingredients

Sunscreen includes active ingredients that help prevent the suns UV radiation from reaching your skin. Heres how the two types of sunscreen work for you:

Physical sunscreen ingredients block and scatter the rays before they penetrate your skin.

Chemical sunscreen ingredients absorb UV rays before they can damage your skin.

Are sunscreens safe?

While physical sunscreens may be less likely to cause skin irritation than chemical sunscreens, both types have been tested as safe and effective. In fact, many sun protection products available today combine both types of ingredients.

All active ingredients in sunscreen are chemically derived. Some people may think of physical sunscreens as more natural, or even organic, but theyre actually inorganic mineral compounds. The sunscreens many people call chemical are actually UV organic filters.

What does SPF mean?

No matter the SPF, reapplication every two hours is key. Sunscreen must also be reapplied immediately after swimming or sweating.

Broad-spectrum protection

What Can You Do To Protect Your Skin

To help protect your skin you can:

  • wear close weave cotton clothing in the sun
  • wear long sleeves and trousers
  • wear a hat with a wide brim that shades your face and neck
  • wear sunglasses that give 100% UV protection
  • use a high factor sunscreen when you’re in the sun – even on a cloudy day
  • spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest between 11 am and 3 pm in the UK
  • never use a sunbed

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How Should I Apply Sunscreen

Most people apply less sunscreen than what is recommended. Remember, for sunscreen to be effective, you need to apply it correctly.

  • Read the label and always follow the manufacturers instructions.
  • Apply generously. Most people do not apply enough sunscreen and do not re-apply frequently enough to achieve maximum protection. Cancer Council recommends adults use about a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears a teaspoon for each arm and leg and a teaspoon each for the front and back of the body.
  • Apply 20 minutes before going outside, to allow it to bind to your skin, and reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating or towel drying. Reapplying regularly also means youre more likely to cover any parts of the skin you may have missed.
  • When using a sunscreen for the first time, test on a small section of skin first. If irritation occurs discontinue use.

No sunscreen provides 100% protection against UV radiation. Sunscreen is not a suit of armour, so we recommend that whenever the UV index is 3 or above, that you protect your skin in five ways.

Nicotinamide May Help Prevent Certain Skin Cancers

Does Sunscreen Protect You From Skin Cancer?

Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that has been shown to reduce the number of skin cancers. In a randomized controlled trial performed in Australia , the risks of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma were significantly reduced by 23%. Nicotinamide has protective effects against ultraviolet damage caused by sun exposure. The vitamin is safe and can be purchased over the counter. We recommended starting the vitamin to all our patients with a history of a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, or with extensive skin damage due to sun exposure. One caveat is that the vitamin must be taken continuously, as the benefits are lost once stopped.

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Educating The Public Regarding Sunscreens And Sunscreen Use

Australia, given its high UV radiation levels has an environment that means two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70 . It is recommended people venturing into the outdoors during sunshine hours should wear a hat, sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, clothing that covers skin, and stay in the shade . In a survey done in Australia during the 19982004 period among adolescents, use of sunscreen was the most frequently practiced sun-protection behaviorsimilar to findings in US and European adolescents . The use of hats significantly has however decreased between 20012002 and 20112012 whereas the use of sunscreen and wearing protective clothes were unchanged, indicating the importance of ongoing public education . Wearing protective clothing was the least frequent behavior across all survey years . Another study done in Norway revealed the prevalence of sunscreen use increased from 1997 to 2007 but this increase was not accompanied by a decrease in sunburn and this may reflect the use of anti-inflammatory agents discussed earlier. As many authors have stated, more effort and education is needed to encourage greater enactment of sun-protection behavior .

Misinformation About Sunscreen Is Common Don’t Let Myths Deter You From Using It To Protect Your Skin

If you’ve ever searched online for information about sunscreen, what you found may have made you feel less than sunny about slathering on these lotions and creams. Sunscreen is designed to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays, but some of the claims made about it suggest it could do more harm than good.

Assertions include everything from statements that sunscreen is ineffective to warnings that it’s outright dangerous. Some writers even go as far as to state that sunscreen may cause skin cancer, thanks to a purported harmful cocktail of toxic ingredients. That’s enough to darken your day.

But are these statements true? We asked Dr. Jennifer Lin, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Melanoma Risk and Prevention Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, to help us separate fact from fiction. Below are her thoughts on what the science really says about sunscreen and whether it’s a friend or foe to your skin.

Q.Are there certain chemicals in sunscreen that people should avoid? I know some groups recommend avoiding certain ingredients.

A. There are two types of sunscreens: Physical blockers reflect ultraviolet rays from the sun and contain one of two active ingredients, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Chemical blockers contain chemicals that absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In the United States these typically include aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.

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Better Results Lie In Better Use

Most of us use only twenty-five to fifty percent of the recommended amounts of sunscreen, and adults need almost one ounce of sunscreen to fully cover the body. According to the skin cancer foundation, proper sunscreen usage can decrease the chance of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 40% and melanoma by 50%. Say no to the sun without sunscreen and lower your skin cancer risk.

Whats The Difference Between Sunscreen And Sunblock And Which One Is Better

How Does Sunscreen Work? Can it Really Prevent Wrinkles and Cancer?

The words sunscreen and sunblock are used interchangeably, but sunscreen generally refers to lotion that protects your skin by a chemical process, while sunblock creates a physical barrier, usually with titanium and zinc particles, to literally block or reflect UV rays.

Compared with sunscreen, sunblock tends to be opaque and leave a white film on the skin.

So which to buy? The dermatologists I talked to said its really a matter of preference. Heres Linos: Choose something you like, because youll want to use it.

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Why You Need It How It Works For You

The big picture: Sunscreen is an important part of a complete sun protection strategy. But sunscreen alone isnt enough to keep you safe in the sun.

When used as directed, sunscreen is proven to:

Regular daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent, and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent.

Help prevent premature skin aging caused by the sun, including wrinkles, sagging and age spots.


WHO: Everyone under the sunWHAT: Broad spectrum SPF 15 or higher SPF 30 or higher for a day outdoorsWHEN: Every day 30 minutes prior to going outdoors. Reapply every two hoursWHERE: All exposed skinHOW: One ounce to entire body for each applicationWHY: Reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer!

What Does The Evidence Say On Whether Sunscreen Use Is Linked To A Decreased Risk Of Skin Cancer

The research is pretty clear that sunscreens can help reduce the risk of at least one type of carcinoma , but less clear on melanoma.

The main problem is the challenge of actually studying this. Melanoma tends to show up years after damaging sun exposure. Its also linked to more intermittent sun exposure .

Not to mention that these studies are tangled up by all kinds of confounding factors. The best evidence researchers have is a long-term study from Australia, which indeed shows that sunscreen has a small effect on melanoma.

The truth is we dont have great data from a randomized controlled trial where they give sunscreen to half a group that sunscreen use prevents melanoma, Linos said.

Heres the bottom line: Though high-quality evidence is a little patchy and hard to come by, sunscreen very probably helps reduce the risk of cancer. As Linos explained: We do have a lot of suggestive evidence. And we do know sunscreen use prevents sunburn, and we know sunburn is one of the main predictors of all types of skin cancer.

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Does Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer The Facts

The news is filled with information about the dangers involved with skin cancer. Some provide foods to prevent skin cancer, or suggest supplements might do the trick. Many ask does sunscreen prevent skin cancer, and the answer is that it depends. While sunscreen is an important factor in protecting your skin from this potentially deadly disease, most people do not use it properly. When sunscreen is not used correctly, the protection it provides is minimal at best. This article will offer an answer to the question, does sunscreen prevent skin cancer? It will also give tips for using the substance correctly so the user can get the full benefits of the protection.

Does Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer?

Before talking about the correct application, it is important to address the question does sunscreen prevent skin cancer. Most sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which have been proven to protect the skin against both UVA and UVB rays. However, zinc oxide provides more effective protection against UVB rays than titanium dioxide does. Other substances that might be found in sunscreen include octocylone and benzophenones, which block UVA and UVB rays equally well. A new ingredient, ecamsule, is also being used in some screens because of its ability to block UVA rays effectively.

Proper Application and Use

Cochrane Asks: Does Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer

Wearing Sunscreen May NOT Prevent Skin Cancer, Study Claims

In trying to answer the question does sunscreen prevent basal or squamous cell skin cancer, the authors reviewed the available literature and found only one study worthy of analysis:

We included one RCT that randomised 1621 participants. This study compared the daily application of sunscreen compared with discretionary use of sunscreen, with or without beta-carotene administration, in the general population. The study was undertaken in Australia

Their conclusion:

In this review, we assessed the effect of solar protection in preventing the occurrence of new cases of keratinocyte cancer. We only found one study that was suitable for inclusion. This was a study of sunscreens, so we were unable to assess any other forms of sun protection

We were unable to demonstrate from the available evidence whether sunscreen was effective for the prevention of basal cell carcinoma or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma .

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Watch Your Alcohol Intake

Although alcohol is not a classic over-the-counter product, it has been in the spotlight in the past year, as alcohol is estimated to be responsible for 3.5% of all cancer deaths. Two meta-analyses suggested an association between skin cancer and alcohol intake. One study found that the risk of basal cell carcinoma increased by 7% and squamous cell carcinoma by 11% for every standard beer or small glass of wine each day. Another study showed a 20% increase in melanoma in drinkers, and the risk increased with the number of drinks. However, these studies didnt take into account other factors that could affect the results, some of which cannot be measured. One example is that ultraviolet light is the main factor that increases basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and alcohol consumption has been associated with behaviors that increase ones risk of getting a sunburn. So what is the recommendation? The American Cancer Society recommends limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Increase Sun Protection For Employees

  • Encourage sun safety among your employees and provide sun protection when possible.
  • Use tents, shelters, and cooling stations to provide shade at worksites.
  • Schedule breaks in the shade and allow workers to reapply sunscreen throughout their shifts.
  • Create work schedules that minimize sun exposure. For example, schedule outdoor tasks like mowing for early morning instead of noon, and rotate workers to reduce their UV exposure.

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Ways To Choose And Use Sunscreen Wisely So That Your Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer:

A. Read the label and choose your own sunscreen:

  • While buying sunscreen, watch the label. If broad-spectrum is mentioned, it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. If SPF is mentioned only, it protects against UVB rays. Choose to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher if you have high exposure to sun.
  • You can prefer sunscreen with SPF 15 for occasional exposure and everyday activities such as driving to work, walking, etc. If you work outdoors and activities like hiking, running, swimming need SPF 30 or higher.
  • Intense physical activity and swimming need water-resistant labelled sunscreens. They are effective for up to forty minutes in water. Sunscreen labelled as Very water-resistant are effective up to eighty minutes in water.
  • Sunscreens are available as creams, gels, sticks, and sprays. Creams are suitable for dry skin, and Gels are suitable for hairy or scalp areas. Sticks can be used around the eyes. You can pick your sunscreen based on your activities, the area to be protected, and how comfortable you are with a particular product. People who have sensitive skin can go for physical sunscreens, and there are also special sunscreens available for sensitive skin and babies.

B. Things to remember while applying sunscreen:

Whats The Best Sunscreen Brand To Buy

How Sunscreen Prevents Wrinkles (and Cancer)

If its reef-safe sunscreen your after, you want to look for lotions that are biodegradable. Wirecutter studied the chemicals and tested several options, and determined Thinksport SPF 50+ Sunscreen has ingredients environmental scientists would approve of.

As a general sunscreen suggestion, Wirecutter also recommended Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70 as their favorite, but it contains reef-harming octinoxate.

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A Safe Simple Way To Keep The Rays At Bay

Your clothing doesnt just look great. It also absorbs or blocks harmful UV radiation and remains one of the most effective forms of protection against sun damage and skin cancer.

Whats more, sun-protective clothing is the simplest way to stay safe unlike sunscreen, you never need to reapply!

is the most effective form of sun protection.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Scc Is The Second Most Common Type Of Skin Cancer

  • People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC, yet they can develop in darker-skinned people.
  • It often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.
  • SCC tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, lips, neck, arms, chest, and back. It can grow deep in the skin and cause damage and disfigurement. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent this and stop SCC from spreading to other areas of the body.
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