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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

October, 2006

 

Sun Protection Reduces Precancers

New York, NY, June 29, 2006 -- In addition to protecting against sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer, daily use of sunscreen can reduce the number of sunspots (or precancers) and may even help existing sunspots disappear. An Australian researcher uncovered that daily use of SPF 15 may decrease the risk of skin cancer in the long run. This study is especially significant in a time when there is so much controversy and confusion about sunscreen and skin cancer rates are at epidemic levels.
"These findings have very positive implications and have gone largely unreported," said Robin Marks, M.B.B.S., M.P.H, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne. "It means that cancer is not inevitable, even though you may have gone down the pathway towards cancer in some tissue, sufficient for it to become clinically apparent in the form of an AK."


Effect on Precancers
The goal of the study was to determine the effect of sunscreens on precancers or actinic keratosis (AKs) and can be likened to smoking research which showed how the body can heal itself after smoking cessation. By removing or reducing the carcinogen, i.e. cutting down sunlight exposure, the force pushing the keratinocyte towards skin cancer is reduced. An immune response or other genetic mechanisms is likely correcting the defect because the carcinogen has been removed. It is a very important factor in giving people hope, even though they may have been exposing their skin to excessive sunlight for many years.


Long-term Implications
This study is very reassuring in that it confirms the notion that regular sunscreen use can decrease the risk of skin cancer. However, in order to be truly effective, sunscreens must be used as an adjunct to other sound sun protective practices in order for to see a reduction in the incidence and mortality rates of skin cancer.


Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
-- Seek the shade, especially between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.

--Do not burn.
--Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
--Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.

--Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or toweling off.

--Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

--Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.

--Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. See your doctor every year for a professional skin exam.

The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global nonprofit organization solely devoted to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of The Skin Cancer Foundation is to reduce the incidence of skin cancer through the promotion of prevention, early detection, and effective treatment of skin cancer. For more information about the Foundation, call 1-800-SKIN-490

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