Apart from its well-known use of protecting your skin against sunburns, it appears sunscreen is also useful in minimizing the risk of developing melanoma. A team of researchers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center from the Ohio University have conducted a study which has led them to this conclusion.
The research was carried out on mice and has proved that by applying sunscreen with SPF 30 before exposing ourselves to UVB (ultraviolet-B) radiation, we can delay or even avoid melanoma. While its crucial role in preventing sunburns is well-known, this is the first time we have discovered that sunscreen can also prevent the apparition of skin cancer.
Dr. Christin Burd, lead investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics and the Department of Molecular Genetics at the cancer center of the Ohio State University, has stated that
“Over the past 40 years, the melanoma incidence rate has consistently increased in the United States. Sunscreens are known to prevent skin from burning when exposed to UV sunlight, which is a major risk factor for melanoma. We have developed a mouse model that allows us to test the ability of a sunscreen to not only prevent burns but also to prevent melanoma.”
After this discovery, the researchers assumed that mice could be used to further identify agents for preventing cancer, but also to develop an innovative way of protecting those who love sunbathing against the deadliest type of skin cancer. According to Burd, the numbers of melanoma cases are on a constant and alarming rise, and the best way of tackling this problem is preventing the disease, not curing it.
The study involved several types of sunscreens that were applied to mice with human-like skin. No matter the brand, all sunscreens with SPF 30 were effective in protecting the mice from melanoma. However, this SPF 30 is very important, because a lesser value lets more UV rays to break through your skin.
Even though animal studies do not usually reflect the situation for humans, the researchers believe that using SPF 30 sunscreen does reduce the risk of developing melanoma by eighty percent. The team hopes their remarkable accomplishment will lead to future breakthroughs in preventing this type of skin cancer.
The results were presented during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research that took place on April 17.
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