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Uncovering the Truth about Suncreens

Written by Kurt Greenberg   
Tuesday, 07 October 2008 10:05
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How Does Your Sunscreen Rank?

Before summer's out check out this website to learn more about sunscreen, how it works and what's safe and effective. They even have a comprehensive listing of sunscreens and the health and sun hazard ranking for each kind: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/special/sunscreens/summary.php


Uncovering the Truths about Sunscreen


With skin cancers of all kinds increasing at an alarming rate and the deadliest form malignant melanoma threatening to surpass all other malignancies as the number one cancer in America within twenty years, it is imperative we investigate all treatment strategies, prevention and most important the causes without delay.

Conventional thinking to protect your self against skin cancer is to cover up and apply sunscreen. The use of sunscreens became popularized in the 1960s and was touted as our best protection against the damaging rays of the sun. With a strong and unrelenting advertising campaign, sunscreens were soon incorporated into American culture (and soon thereafter around the world). Dermatologists soon began to endorse their use and the new era of skin cancer protection via sunscreens was heralded in.

Oddly enough, since their introduction, skin cancer rates began to climb and not fall. For example, melanoma rates doubled from 6 to 13 per 100,000 people since 1973. Today, skin cancer diagnoses surpass all other cancer, with over 1.3 million new cases each year, with new melanoma diagnoses to be close to 48,000 in 2002, according to the American Cancer Society.

Proponents of sunscreen believe that many stay in the sun too long without reapplying, thus increasing their risks of getting skin cancer; while others point out that many people fail to apply the sunscreen in "hidden" areas such as behind the ears, thus increasing skin cancer risk with increased exposure. Then there are those who state that sunscreen has never been proven to prevent skin cancer and point to the lack of any controlled studies. There is also the school of thought that states a blocking agent can save the skin from sun damage and possibly skin cancer, and it is not sunscreen per se but what is in the sunscreen. It is that question that is the most disturbing.

With the exception of a very few, sunscreens are a combination of chemicals designed to protect the skin from UVB rays. SPF or sun protection factor is the ratio of the amount of UV it takes to produce redness or erythema on sunscreen applied skin. It is then compared to unprotected skin for 24 hours to see how much UV radiation it takes to have a similar effect. So if it takes 10 minutes for your skin to redden a bit, an SPF of, let's say 8, should allow you to stay in the sun eight times longer or eighty minutes before you start to redden. Chemical sunscreens protect against UVB. SPF does not apply for UVA unless the sunscreen says it contains avobenzone or Parsol 1789 for example. Yet it is UVA most researchers believe causes the most harm to the skin.