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Does sunscreen cause skin cancer?

The latest on:

Does sunscreen cause skin cancer?

Know the 3 types of skin cancer:

sunscreen causes skin cancer myth

20% of Americans will Develop Skin Cancer

Does sunscreen cause cancer?

No, sunscreen does not cause skin cancer. In fact, using sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer by protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. However, it is important to use sunscreen properly. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and apply it generously to all exposed skin. Be sure to reapply every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating. It is also important to use other sun protection measures, such as seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding peak sun hours. While sunscreen is not a guarantee against skin cancer, it is an important tool in preventing it.

Know the facts about sunscreen and skin cancer

Top 5 Sunscreen Skin Cancer Myths

  1. Myth: Sunscreen Prevents Cancer Completely – Sunscreen reduces the risk of skin cancer, but it does not prevent it completely.
  2. Myth: High SPF is Always Better – Sunscreen with higher SPF doesn’t necessarily protect better. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%, making little difference despite much higher cost.
  3. Myth: Waterproof Sunscreen Lasts All Day – No sunscreen can last all day, even the waterproof ones. Reapply every two hours.
  4. Myth: Dark Skin Doesn’t Need Sunscreen – People with darker skin aren’t invincible to skin damage and still need sun protection.
  5. Myth: Sunscreen is Only Needed at the Beach – The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage skin anytime, anywhere. Sunscreen is a must for day-to-day activities like running errands or going to work.

The origins of the sunscreen cancer myth

How did the myth that sunscreen causes cancer originate?

There is no clear consensus on who started the myth that sunscreen causes cancer. However, some sources suggest that the myth may have started from a misinterpretation of a study published in 2012, which suggested that a type of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, found in some sunscreens, may speed up the development of skin tumors in lab animals. However, subsequent research has not confirmed this finding, and many experts agree that the benefits of using sunscreen to protect against skin cancer far outweigh any potential risks. Additionally, other factors such as changes in public opinion and misunderstandings about the science behind sunscreen may have also contributed to the perpetuation of this myth. Ultimately, it is important to rely on reliable sources for information about sunscreen and its role in preventing skin cancer.

The origins of the sunscreen cancer myth

What do the experts say about skin cancer sunscreen myths?

In an interview with Dr. Jennifer Lin, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Melanoma Risk and Prevention Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Lin states that There are two types of sunscreens: Physical blockers which reflect UB light from the sun and contain either, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients. The other type, Chemical blockers contain chemicals that absorb the sun’s UV rays. In the United States these typically include aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.

Dr. Lin notes that Oxybenzone has received the worst press because of concerns that it may act as what is known as a hormone disrupter. “A hormone disruptor is a chemical that has the ability to cross cell membranes and may interfere with your body’s natural hormone production”, according to Dr. Lin.

She goes on to say that, there have been no conclusive studies that show oxybenzone is harmful to people.

Organizations that have promoted opposition to the use of oxybenzone mainly cite studies conducted on rats, where the animals were actually fed oxybenzone vs. applying it externally.

“It would take an individual 277 years of sunscreen use to achieve the equivalent systemic dose that produced effects in these rat studies, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” noted Dr. Lin. Oxybenzone is, however, also known to cause allergic reactions in some people, although this is not common.

Read more about the Science of Sunscreen

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