Sunscreens Should be First Line of Defense against Skin Cancer, Experts


Couple going for a swimExperts recommend not leaving sunscreen at home if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors this vacation. With 5 million new cases diagnosed every year, skin cancer has morphed into a full-fledged ‘epidemic’ even though it can be easily prevented.

Skin cancer experts recommend sunbathers to be extra cautious when and how they go for sun exposure. For instance, they should avoid peak sun hours and wear protective clothing during those hours. Protective clothing should include wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses.

Dr. Deborah Sarnoff of the Skin Cancer Foundation said that protective clothing is more effective during peak hours. Yet, if you insist staying out in the sun, you should apply a generous layer of sunscreen on your skin.

A survey shows that 53 percent of people admit that they never or rarely used solar protection products. Sarnoff believes that sunscreen should be as important as oral hygiene. She added that sunscreen should not be overlooked in cloudy days either as solar radiation can still make it to the ground.

On the other hand, wearing any type of sunscreen is not recommended. Consumer Reports found that very few brands deliver the promises on their labels. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreens with at least SPF 30.

Solar protection factor or SPF is an indicator of how much more time you can be exposed to solar radiation before getting sunburns than you normally would. For instance, if your skin becomes red and shows signs of sunburn in 10 minutes, a SPF 30 sunscreen can extend that time to 30x 10 minutes, if the product is used correctly.

According to the CR report, of 50 analyzed sunscreens just 57 percent lived up to the claims on their labels. All surveyed products had a SPF 30 or higher. CR investigators noted that some sunscreens failed to deliver their promises by a little while other by a long shot.

Among the lotions that are as effective as labeled are LaRoche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In and Pure Sun Defense Disney Frozen SPF 50. Researchers explained that adults as well can use sunscreen products destined to kids. The best spray formulations were Banana Boat Suncomfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+ and Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+.

Nevertheless, regardless of the brand, you should look for a sunscreen that has a SPF 40 or higher and a “broad spectrum” protection. Skin cancer experts also recommend monthly self-exams and to seek your dermatologist whenever you notice any suspicious changes to your skin.

Experts said that skin cancer is 100 percent curable if it is spotted in time.

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