Friday, August 24, 2007
Turning up the heat on sunscreen
You may not know this, but sunscreen has been around since the mid 1940s. This product was developed during the height of World War II, when soldiers based out in the Pacific started noticing the dangers of overexposing their skin to the sun. It became widely used in the 1960s. Still, it was only recently that the manufacturers started seriously thinking about UVA rays as well as UVB rays. I was surprised by that, given that UVA rays can be so dangerous. For a long time, many people probably had a false sense of security with their UVB protection alone.

So, SPF means sun protection factor. Most people know that. More specifically, an SPF of 15 means it will take 15 times longer to develop an area of redness on your skin if you wear the sunscreen. That offers obvious protection against sunburns, which are caused by the UVB rays. The problem is the UVA rays dive even deeper under the skin and cause tanning, as well as disruption of collagen, wrinkling and premature aging. Doesn't sound so attractive when I put it that way, right?

Now, new guidelines have been proposed to both mandate UVA protection and to label specific products with the amount of UVA protection they offer. The system will use stars for the ratings, with one star being the lowest protection and four stars being the highest. Products that have no UVA protection will clearly state that there is "no UVA protection" in the bottle. There will also be warnings on the bottles reminding people that too much sun can cause skin cancer. (Full Story)

The fact of the matter is though, no matter the product, people have to actually use it to have any effect whatsoever. (Watch video) You need at least a shot glass amount to cover a normal-sized body and a full teaspoon to cover your face. I have always been surprised by the number of people who improperly use sunscreen. I still see young children with deep, dark tans and adults with sunburns all the time. That's scary given that just a few sunburns can double your risk of skin cancer. So, why do you think that even with all the information about the risks of skin cancer, so few people use adequate sunscreen?
Dear Dr. Sanjay :-)
Always thank you very much for sharing valuable a piece of information with us.

I agree that skin cancer is often caused by too much exposure to the sun.
In fact, ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer worldwide.

I read in the newspaper that"repeated exposure to sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer, especially if you have fair skin, also UV light in sunlight causes the wrinkles"

Dermatologists have sounded alarms about the spike in skin cancer rates.

Where deeply tanned skin used to be considered a sign of good health, it is now thought to be hazardous. Not too long ago tanning was fashionable in seoul.

Sunless tanning products react with keratin proteins found in dead cells on the outer layer of the skin,turning them brown, so I hate tanning. :(

In my experience, appropriate level of sunscreen is better than high-level of sunblock.
In case of the former, it will be good to put on it with 2 or 3 hours interval.
In case of the latter, it causes skin trouble because it contains a harmful chemical substances.

The heat of late summer is more terrible than usual...
Anyway have a safe summer!!! :D
Thanks again, good-bye
Very helpful information. Glad to know FDA actually cares.
Would you evaluate spray-on sunscreens vs lather-on sunscreens as to their effectiveness given equal ratings SPF/UVA STARS
People should also be aware that clothing alone does not fully protect one from the damage caused by UVA/UVB rays. If one is in the sun for any period of time, even with shirts, shorts, hats, etc. it is wise to apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or 50 before fully dressing and heading outdoors.
Would be useful if you would talk about the importance of vitamin-D- produced by the sun on the skin-to nearly every body function and how D helps protect one against skin cancer. A simple vitamin serious overlooked by doctors and the FDA.
When will we see this information coming out on new Labels? When it comes to the products that are geared toward children was the UVA Protection always included? I have read several articles that stated the severe Sun Burns we recieved as children can be the very cause of skin cancer as we become Adults. PLS ADV Thx > Karan
It makes you smell weird and feel oily!
I know very few people in this part of the country that have the ritual of putting on sunscreen everyday, specially in their faces. This is one of the hottest places in the U.S. all year round, and the culture and information of using daily sunscreen, not just at the beach needs to be more active. I'm surprised that the sunscreen market has not taken advantage of this situation since putting daily sunscreen on the face and hands can also help the development of premature wrinkles. It is a product that needs to be used daily now not just on vacations.
Very important tips and issues are this. These products are since ages and millions of people are using it. Well I guess we need to educate more and more people about it's bad effect.

Thank for your information.

-Stella Roy
Read a book called Silencing the Self. That's why, Dr. Eaker.
To Anonymous posted at 12:06 AM, sunscreen does not have to be smelly and oily. Because of two skin conditions, I use Neutrogena 55 SPF, which is a dry touch with a very light fragrance.
Dear Dr. Sanjay, I MUST protect myself because my DNA is positive to transform from Discoid to SLE. Application every 2 to 3 hrs is very inconvenient. When I prepare for a day of errands out of the house, my trip counting to and from town takes about 45 min. I have almost no time for all the errands to be taken care of. By the time I apply medication, sunscreen, moisture, foundation and powder, I feel protected, but not long enough to finish everything. It is impossible to come back home and do it all over again, then go back to town! Is there a possibility the time frame will be improved in the future? jung-hae kim referred to harmful chemicals when using high SPF for long periods.
This is good information. I just recently moved to Austin, TX and it looks like everyone here gets tan! Just recently, a friend of mine showed me a "weird new mole" on her stomach. She tans probably close to daily. The mole looked like the beginnings of melanoma. Seeing that made skin cancer a lot more personal to me. All of my grandparents have had melanoma, and my parents will probably get it too. I try to just avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm, the big risk hours for sun exposure. I wear spf 30 on my face, and thick-fabric clothing. It's hot out, and it's not easy, but I'd rather invest in preventative maintenance than chemotherapy.
Dear Dr. Sanjay,

Good Morning. I was browsing through your blog and came upon the sunscreen information. A friend of mine commented that sunscreen actually causes cancer. Can you speak to this comment please?

Thank You.
The sunscreen myth: How sunscreen products actually promote cancer.

Click the link below. After you read the following article, you will never think the same way about Sunscreen again.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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