SPF30 May Help Prevent Melanoma

With warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours to enjoy, the spring weather should also bring to mind protecting skin not just from premature aging, but also from skin cancer.  New research has found that sunscreen with an SPF30 may not only help prevent sunburn, a risk factor for skin cancer, but could also delay the onset of melanoma.

Most skin cancers are diagnosed in patients over the age of 50 and are more common in people with light-colored skin, eyes and hair and those who have had more exposure to ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds, working outdoors or living where bright sunlight is common year-round.

Research from the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center found that when UVB-blocking agents were applied to genetically engineered mice, melanoma onset was delayed and the incidence of tumors reduced.

If funding is found for a solar simulator to better model all wavelengths of sunlight, the research into developing better sunscreens for protecting against cancer will continue.  For now, The Canadian Cancer Society recommends the following:

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF30 or higher that protects from both UVA and UVB radiation.  Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours.
  • Apply sunscreen before makeup or insect repellant
  • Lips need protection also – look for lip balms with SPF
  • Use sun protection on cloudy days as well – UV rays can pass through scattered layers of cloud
  • Check expiry dates on sunscreen; it may not be as effective past the date on the package
  • If sunscreen has been frozen, overheated or has changed in color or smell it may not be effective – throw it out.
  • Use protective clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat, sun glasses and long sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Avoid sun exposure during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Do not intentionally tan or use tanning beds.
  • Early detection can save your life.  Any new or changing spots should be seen by a dermatologist.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer seen in the United States and the rates of diagnosis are rising each year.  About 3.3 million Americans are diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin cancers each year and another 76,380 cases of the deadly melanoma are detected.  It is also the most preventable cancer with good UV protection (SPF30 and above) and early detection.  For more information about skin cancer visit the American Cancer Society website at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer/index .