Slathering on SPF30 sunscreen before heading outdoors to cut the grass, go for a swim or bike to work can cut the risk for skin cancer by 80 percent. That’s according to data presented Sunday at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
In the new study, researchers from Ohio State University exposed genetically engineered mice to a single dose of ultraviolet B light the day after applying chemical 4-hydroxytamoxifen – or 4OHT – to the skin. They then tested different types of SPF30 sunscreens on mice. It turned out when the SPF30 was applied prior to exposure to UVB light, the development of melanoma – or skin cancer – was delayed and tumor incidence was reduced.
“All of these SPF30 sunscreens were able to protect our mice from getting melanoma,” Christin Burd, assistant professor in the department of molecular genetics and the department of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, told CBS New York.
However, there are limitations. The short exposure to UVB used in the study is about equivalent to the amount of UVB exposure a person might encounter during a week-long beach vacation, and sunscreens aren’t made to handle a week’s worth of sun given at one time.
The findings from this study could be used to develop sunscreens that are safe and help prevent skin cancer, not just sunburns, Burd said in the press release.
Skin cancer affects 1 in 5 Americans, and more than 73,000 are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma this year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Using sunscreen, getting an annual checkup, wearingsunblock every day, never sunbathing or using indoor tanning beds, can go a long way in protecting your skin from cancer.