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Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: Your Defense Against Sunburn, Aging, and Skin Cancer

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: Your Defense Against Sunburn, Aging, and Skin Cancer

More than 2 million Americans develop skin cancer each year (ACS 2015). Melanoma, which can cause serious illness and even death. One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 52 minutes). Most cases involve one of two disfiguring but rarely fatal forms of skin cancer called basal and squamous cell carcinomas. The risk of melanoma increases as people age. Some 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to the age of 65 will be diagnosed with one of these tumors at least once during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI 2012). The sun causes significant damage to skin structure and a significant increase in skin cancer. The bright spot? All types of skin cancer are 100 percent curable, if recognized and treated early.

In 2011, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published a randomized, clinical study of over 1,600 people showing that regular sunscreen use reduced the incidence of melanoma by 50-73%. When used as directed with other sun protection measures, broad spectrum sunscreen higher helps prevent sunburn and reduces the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer (melanoma and squamous cell carcinomas) associated with UV radiation. 

Additionally, several scientific research studies disprove claims that sunscreen use increases melanoma risk. These comprehensive assessments of thousands of people found that sunscreen use does not, in fact, increase one’s risk of developing melanoma.

A recent study published in the American College of Physicians’ Annals of Internal Medicine (released June 3, 2013) is the first research in humans to show conclusively that sunscreen can help prevent photoaging – premature aging caused by the sun. Although there has been significant indirect evidence suggesting that sunscreen has anti-aging benefits, this study is the first clinical human trial to show it directly.

Researchers compared skin aging in 900 men and women from Australia over a four-year period from 1992 to 1996. They found that daily sunscreen use significantly slows skin aging, even in middle-aged men and women. Study participants who used sunscreen daily were less likely to have wrinkles and dark spots after 4.5 years than participants who did not regularly use sunscreen.

Daily use of a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen can help reduce aging of the skin caused by sun damage. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun cause more than 90 percent of the visible signs of aging, which include wrinkles, rough patches, sagging, and skin discoloration. The SPF you need every day is an SPF 30 or higher. That’s going to give you the protection you need and you don’t want to go any lower - it’s not going to be effective.

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