Sunscreen causes skin cancer. That is what a new report from the British Association of Dermatologists is saying, despite the fact that all of us have been inundated with anti-tanning information and a constant barrage of “remember your sunscreen” advice all summer long.
The sunscreen research, put together by the British Association of Dermatologists, indicates that over 72 percent of the population reports receiving a sunburn last year, despite all the anti-tanning information and the proactive reminders about sunscreen. Those 72 percent are twice as likely to develop skin cancer, a deadly form of melanoma. Why are people still getting sunburned when they are constantly reminded to wear sunscreen?
According to the report, it seems that one of three things are the culprit. Either we’re not wearing the right kind of sunscreen, we are not reapplying sunscreen often enough, or we’re getting a false sense of security from our sunscreen. Either way, it’s our sunscreen that is increasing our risk of melanoma.
Malignant melanoma, skin cancer’s deadliest form, is now the fifth most common cancer in the U.K. and the number one form of cancer in the United States. Last year, breakthrough new studies into the damaging effects of ultraviolet A (the cause of long-term skin cancer) and ultraviolet B (the short-term burner of our skin) found that sunscreen that offered a SPF (sun protection factor) of 50 didn’t give complete protection from the development of skin cancer. However, when individuals purchase and use a SPF 50, they think they’re buying the best protection they can get, and tend to stay in the sun longer than usual.
One of the authors of the new study, Dr. Julie Sharp, of Cancer Research U.K., commented on the sunscreen findings.
“People tend to think they’re invincible once they’ve put it on and end up spending longer out in the sun, increasing their overall exposure to UV rays. This research adds important evidence showing that sunscreen has a role, but that you shouldn’t just rely on this to protect your skin.”
So what kind of sunscreen should you be buying? Experts say there’s a veritable minefield of misinformation surrounding different sunscreens. You must find one that is effective on both UVA and UVB light. One sunscreen may be a 50 SPF protection against UVA, but do absolutely nothing for UVB. Secondly, price means nothing. Expensive sunscreen creams and lotions aren’t necessarily better than cheaper ones. You must read the labels and make sure that your sunscreen has all the protection you want and need. When it comes to sunscreen, buyer beware.
[Photo by Phil Cole / Getty Images]