Statistics show that in four decades the cases of skin cancer have tripled. This naturally poses the question for protecting the skin from the UV rays of the sun as they can cause DNA changes in cells and lead to the growth of tumours. Sunscreen products are widely used, but it is important to have an idea of how well they can protect you and how they can lower melanoma risk. Find out more about their significance for the prevention of the deadliest form of skin cancer.
How Sunscreen Works
This type of topical treatment has ingredients which work to prevent the penetration of the sun’s UV rays into the skin. The different ingredients work in two main ways. They either reflect the harmful rays or diffuse them. Given this, it is logical to conclude that sunscreen can help to lower melanoma risk.
At the same time, you have to keep in mind that the treatment cannot reflect and diffuse all the UV radiation which the skin is exposed to. They reduce the penetration of the UV rays into the skin significantly, but not completely. This is true even for the products with SPF50 and higher.
What Research Shows
Research studies on the link between the use of sunscreen and lower melanoma risk have shown mixed results. Some of the most recent ones are very promising. A study conducted in 2011 among 1,600 showed that the application of sunblock alone can reduce the risk by as much as half.
However, there are also studies which have shown that this product may actually increase the risk of the condition. This may be due to the fact that people tend to stay longer hours in the sun when they apply sunscreen. Generally, there is no solid evidence that the use of this type of product alone can reduce the risk.
Factors for Effectiveness
The effectiveness of the protective topical treatment depends not only on the product, but on the way in which it is applied. Experts suggest that the product has to be used every day irrespective of the weather outdoors. It has reapplied every half an hour or so during outdoor activities, especially when the person is sweating. Similarly, it has to be reapplied after a swim.
Overall, sunscreen alone may help to reduce melanoma risk, but in order for it to produce the best results it has to be combined with other protective measures. These include avoiding the sun during the hours of the day when the UV radiation is the strongest and covering as much of the body as possible with clothing.