Skin Cancer Prevention: Which Sunscreen is Best?

Sunscreen Tips Skin Cancer PreventionFor many people, Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff to Summer. Schools are finishing up and thousands will flock to beaches and lakes for the first getaway of the season. Whether you are going away, or spending a relaxing weekend at home, remember to wear sunscreen! Also, as you are on the hunt for the right product, know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun to unveil new requirements for the way sunscreen manufacturers need to label and market their products to the consumer. We touched on this topic, as well as the importance of using sunscreen, during our recent Melanoma live chat with Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University dermatologist, Suephy Chen, MD.

According to Dr. Chen, changes to sunscreen labeling are a way of making sure that all sunscreens meet FDA required standards for safety and effectiveness. Labels will include specific and accurate information to help consumers select the right sun protection for themselves and their families.

When selecting the right sunscreen, “people should look for an SPF of 30. Anything higher than that doesn’t hurt, but it also doesn’t give you any real additional protection,” says Dr. Chen. “Proper coverage comes from reapplying sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re in direct sunlight, have perspired and/or have gotten in and out of the water.”

Currently, the numbering system on sunscreens (SPF) only refers to protection against UV-B rays, which cause sunburn, but does not address UV-A rays, which can attribute to skin cancer and early skin damage. Under FDA regulation, all sunscreens have undergone “broad spectrum” tests to determine whether or not they protect against both UV-B and UV-A rays. Sunscreens that pass the test will now include the term “broad spectrum” on the label, to help consumers identify that they’re receiving coverage from both types of radiation.

The importance of using daily protection is crucial in the prevention of melanoma and other skin cancers. According to Dr. Chen, “only about 25% of melanomas come from a pre-existing mole, and about 75% of them occur in areas in which there was previously normal looking skin. Once sunburn happens, there are ways to treat the symptoms of the burn, but the damage to the skin has already been done.” For more sun safety tips, see part one of our Melanoma post series.

So if you plan on spending time outside this weekend, make sure to head to the drugstore first to load up on sun protection. Need a recommendation on a good product that you won’t have to break the bank for? After conducting their own series of “broad spectrum” tests, Consumer Reports recently revealed their top picks for reliable yet inexpensive sunscreens. Top products include: NO-Ad SPF 45 and Walgreen’s Continuous Spray Sunscreen Sport 50. Try them and let us know what you think in the comments field below!

For more information or to see a dermatologist, please call 404-778-777 or visit Winship’s website.

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  • Guest

    Agree with this using our skin is the front line defense in our daily fight against pollution and other environmental irritants, so we need to protect and reinforce it with extra care.