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Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association

October 2010, Volume 2 Number 5 , p 228 - 229



Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen. Recent attacks on sunscreens by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and by the media point to imperfections and potential risks but miss the point that sunscreen continues to be one of the safest and most effective sun protection methods available.We are concerned that the criticisms will raise unnecessary fears and cause people to stop using sunscreen, doing their skin serious harm.In general, the criticisms have not been based on hard science. In fact, The Skin Cancer Foundation's Photobiology Committee, an independent volunteer panel of top experts on sun damage and sun protection, reviewed the same studies reviewed by the EWG and found that their determination of what made a sunscreen bad or good was based on "junk science."Here, the Photobiology Committee responds to the criticisms and explains why sunscreen remains an essential part of anyone's daily sun safety program.As sunscreen use has gone up in the past 30 years, so has melanoma incidence. Systematic review of all studies from 1966 to 2003 shows no evidence to support the relationship between sunscreen use and increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Actually, some important epidemiological research has indicated that population groups using sunscreen have reduced their melanoma incidence.The use of excessive SPFs and terms such as "broad-spectrum protection" or "multispectrum protection" on sunscreen labels mislead us into a false sense of security, when sunscreens really do not protect adequately against UVA radiation. Because both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) are harmful, you need protection from both kinds of rays. "Broad-spectrum protection" and "multispectrum protection" mean only that a sunscreen offers protection against parts of both the UVA and the UVB

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