Recent Studies on Sun-Induced Skin Damage and Sunscreen Use

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Although it's a cloudy today, don't forget to slather on sunscreen before you go outside. Here are some recent findings regarding skin damage caused by the sun:

  • A study published in May showed that more than a quarter of outwardly normal skin in middle-aged adults actually had skin mutations that may be the first stages of cancer. In every .1 square inch of skin exposed to sunlight, researchers found thousands of mutations in each skin cell. Dr. Douglas E. Brash said to the New York Times,
It is especially important, he said, “to be very conscientious about protecting young children,” who are more susceptible than teenagers and adults to ultraviolet-induced mutations.

SPF stands for sun protection factor. SPF is supposed to indicate how well a product is able to protect against sunburn, which can lead to aging skin and skin cancer. Even though sunscreen is important in reducing the risks of sunburn and skin cancer, only 30 percent of people use sunscreen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is also important to note that the FDA has not confirmed that SPF over 50 provides additional protection from the sun. Here's helpful link created by the Environmental Working Group that lists safety ratings for various sunscreens. 

  • Another study showed that much skin cell damage occurs even hours after sun exposure. 
You can’t buy a cream to get rid of mutations, so the best approach is to prevent the damage,” Dr. Brash said. “The new study presents a graphic picture of what’s going on in our skin, and might convince people to put on sunscreen and stay off the beach between 10 and 2.
— New York Times

To read the full New York Times article, click here.