Sunscreen does not fully protect against melanoma risk: Study

Sunscreen does not fully protect against melanoma risk: Study (Fotolia)

Sunscreen does not fully protect against melanoma risk: Study (Fotolia)

QMI Agency
 

, Last Updated: 2:19 PM ET

Sunscreens do not protect a person totally against the risk of developing skin cancer, according to a new study from Spanish and British researchers.

The study suggests sunscreen, even with an SPF of 50, may not fully protect against melanoma. Sunscreens protect against immediate radiation damage, including sunburn, but the radiation can still penetrate and damage the DNA of cells.

Researchers used genetically modified mice that were more susceptible to melanoma. The researchers found ultraviolet light caused mutations in the DNA in a gene called p53, which is part of a genome that protects the body against cancer.

The researchers said this does not mean sunscreen is useless, but rather the study "validates public health campaigns that promote sunscreen protection for individuals at risk of melanoma."

The Canadian Cancer Society says the findings reinforce the idea that sunscreen is just one of several steps Canadians should take to protect themselves from sun damage.

"We've known all along that sunscreens don't block 100% of the sun," said Dr. Robert Nuttall, director of cancer control policy at the CCS. "We've always said sunscreen shouldn't be your only line of defence."

Nuttall says the best protection is to stay out of the sun during peak hours. But if you have to be outside, find some shade or cover up with clothing and a hat. And if you still have exposed skin, use sunscreen "because it's much better than not wearing sunscreen at all."

The study appears in the journal Nature.


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