The rates of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — have doubled in the last 30 years, but finally there’s some good news to report.
Researchers have discovered that using sunscreens may prevent skin cancer risk by 80 percent. While it has long been known that sunscreens are an effective guard against sunburns, their ability to protect against melanoma has previously been unknown.
Scientists from Ohio State University tested the application of a variety of sunscreens with SPF 30 on mice before exposing them to UVB light. The mice were genetically engineered to have skin that closely resembles humans.
The results? All the sunscreens with SPF 30 reduced the risk of melanoma by 80 percent.
“They all worked,” lead researcher Christin Burd said in a news release. “Now, for the first time, we have a mechanism to say ‘Yes, this sunscreen can protect against melanoma,’ and we hope that we can now use that information to develop better, smarter sunscreens.”
The study, while promising, does have some limitations. It was conducted on animals and it used only UVB light — not the entire ultraviolet spectrum emitted through sunlight. In addition, the mice were exposed to a short burst of UVB light — the same exposure level as spending a week of concentrated time in the sun.
Researchers presented their findings recently at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)