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Sunscreens Prevent Cancer, Reduce Melanoma Risk - Finally Some Proof Published?

Updated on November 15, 2016
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John uses Biochemistry and Physiology (PhD) skills to review health topics, disease prevention, home remedies for ailments & better health

Its been a long time coming!

There have been many studies that question the supposed benefits of sunscreens for preventing skin cancer. See:

Disturbingly many scientific studies showed the exact opposite - that sunscreen use has been linked to an increase in skin cancer.

One of the main reasons is that people suffer from a false sense of security and are encouraged to go out into the sun more frequently and for longer periods of time with a sunscreen.

However most people do not apply sunscreens properly and frequently enough to be effective.

Also many of the sunscreens you can buy simply don't work.


Recent Research Findings

Recent Australian research has shown for the first time that daily sunscreen application can prevent potentially deadly melanoma. The research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, involved a study of 1600 people from Queensland in a long term trial. Volunteers were randomly assigned to two groups:

  • One group received standard advice on how to use SPF15+ sunscreen.
  • Another group were given sunscreen and provided with careful instructions and supervision of their use of the sunblock.

After 15 years, the group members who applied sunscreen infrequently and without supervision had twice number of melanomas, compared to the daily use group who were supervised.

Lisa McFayden, from Melanoma Patients Australia group, stated that this study was very important because it finally confirms what we have been saying about sunscreen and cancer.

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, more than 10,000 people are treated for melanoma, with about 1420 people dying each year.

Hats and Shade Probably More Important than Sunscreens

Researchers say the study strongly advocates the importance of using sunscreen, but many stress that this is only one of the preventative measures that are required to reduce skin cancer - such as using hats and protective clothing and simply staying out of the sun during the middle of the day.

Sunscreen Can Encourage People to Stay too Long in the Sun at the Wrong Rime of Day

Writing a commentary on the research in the journal, Dr Karen Glanz and Dr Phyllis Gimotty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine stated that while the study was not perfect it should help remove many doubts. To their knowledge, the trial's findings are the first to provide strong evidence for a reduction in the incidence of invasive melanoma after regular application of broad spectrum sunscreen in adults.

Prior to this there has been a lack of clear data determining which wavelengths promote the development melanomas. A meta-analysis of articles published from 1966 to 2003 failed to demonstrate an association between melanoma and sunscreen use. The reasons for this appear to be related to the fact that effective sunscreens have only been available since the 1980s.

Sunscreens not Applied Properly and Often Enough

Adequate UVA protection has been added much more recently. Widespread use of sunscreens is a relatively recent phenomenon. Many applications of sunscreen are not uniformly applied nor sufficiently thick to provide the anticipated degree of photo protection.

Since the use of sunscreen allows longer periods of solar exposure without burning, this induced change in sun exposure behavior may outweigh any benefit derived from physical protection.

Additional concern has been raised recently about whether nanoparticle formulations of sunscreen result in penetration of nanoparticles through the skin leading to many potential health problems.

Prior to the present study evidence that sunscreen use reduces melanoma risk was at best inferential.

© janderson99-HubPages

© 2010 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • janderson99 profile image

    Dr. John Anderson 5 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

    Lot of concern about nanoparticles now!

  • janderson99 profile image

    Dr. John Anderson 5 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

    Finally some proof!