Does Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer?

Does Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. More than a million new cases are diagnosed annually, and it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetimes. Research is ongoing to try to determine exactly how it develops and how it can best be prevented.

What is Skin Cancer

Your skin is a living organ that has the ability to generate new cells to replace dead and damaged cells. Sometimes too many new cells are created or too few damaged cells die. The resulting "extra" cells form into a mass, or tumor.

The Sun's Influence

Long-term exposure to the sun and specifically the DNA cell damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation is believed to be a strong contributing factor in the formation of the most common skin cancers.

Who's At Risk

Skin cancer is most often found in people over 50. Generally, light skin tones are more at risk than darker tones, blonds and redheads more than brunettes, Southern U.S. regions more than Northern and high altitudes more than lowlands. All that said, no one is immune.

Prevention

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends protection from the sun and any source of UV radiation from an early age. Along with proper clothing and sunglasses, protection should include the regular use of a broad spectrum (blocks UVA and UVB) sunscreen with an sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.

Conclusion

While the National Cancer Institute concedes that there is not enough scientific evidence yet to prove that sunscreen effectively reduces skin-cancer rates, they join the AAD and the American Melanoma Foundation in strongly recommending broad-spectrum sunscreens as a means to reduce the risks of skin cancer.

Article Written By Robert Leonardi

Robert Leonardi is a freelance writer specializing in eye care and general health-related articles. He is the president and CEO of a chain of eye care centers and has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed optician and administrator in the optical industry.

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