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-Suncream offers No Protection against Cancer 2003-09-28

Posted by clype in Health, Science, Statistics.

Sunbathers who smother their bodies in lotions to block out harmful rays are not being protected against skin cancer and premature ageing, a new study has found.Research published tomorrow [2003-09-29, Mo] will show that sunscreens, even when they are high factor and applied in the proper amounts, do not prevent dangerous changes in the skin's make-up which can promote the growth of cancer.

Although the lotions prevent burning they are less effective at blocking out UVA rays, which are believed to cause melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer.

Scientists are expected to warn this week that people must not be led by a false sense of security into staying longer in the sun because they are covered with high-factor lotions.

Cases of melanoma are now rising faster than any other cancer in Britain, and deaths from the disease are also on the increase.

In the UK, 1 600 British people die each year from melanoma, more than the 1 000 Australian deaths/year, where people have learnt to cover up in the sun.

The lifetime risk from the disease is doubling every decade.

Currently, one in every 68 adults will be diagnosed with the illness, but by 2010 that will have risen to one in 50. This summer's heatwave is likely to have proved particularly harmful.

Ambulance services reported record numbers taken to hospital with sunstroke and sunburn, and sales of suncream broke all records.

On the two hottest days, more than 35 000 bottles of lotion went off the shelves.

 But even the highest factor of 35 is not enough to filter out all the damaging rays, according to researchers at the Mount Vernon Hospital in north London.

profsanders.jpg Led by burns specialist Prof.Roy Sanders, they will warn tomorrow [2003-09-29, Mo] that limiting sunbathing and covering up when the sun is at its strongest is the only safe way of protecting the skin.

This leaves a dilemma for the cancer charities which want people to carry on using sunscreen because it prevents sunburn and some damage, even though it is not foolproof. Lesley Walker, head of information at the Cancer Research UK charity, said:

'People should cover up as much as possible but we don't want to see them abandoning the creams altogether'.

Some companies are introducing UVA filters into their creams but these appear at present to be too weak fully to block the ultraviolet light.

"Suncream is 'no protection against cancer'"Jo Revill, The Observer, 2003-09-28 Su



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