COLUMBUS – Warmer weather means more time in the sun for Ohioans, and new research underscores the importance of using sunscreen when outside.
A study from Ohio State University shows applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 might delay the onset of melanoma.
Dr. Christin Burd, assistant professor with the Ohio State University James Comprehensive Cancer Center, says a range of sunscreens were applied to mice prior to exposure to UVB light, and all postponed the onset of melanoma and reduced the incidence of tumors.
“There are a lot of different factors other than burning that can contribute to the formation of a melanoma or any type of skin cancer,” Burd says. “By using this model, we’re able to really look at all of those different biological properties that feed into whether you may or may not get cancer.”
The current SPF rating is based on whether sunscreen can prevent burning from the sun, not skin cancer. The study found minor differences in the effectiveness of the sunscreens used, but Burd notes that some did have a higher rating than labeled.
Melanoma is one of the few cancer incidents that continue to grow in the U.S., she says, with about a three percent increase in diagnosed cases each year. She adds, research will continue to determine which ingredients in sunscreen provide the strongest protection against melanoma development.
“We think by beginning to do really better research in this area, we might be able to develop even more efficacious sunscreens that would prevent this increase that we continue to see,” says Burd.
According to the findings, up until now it has not been possible to test whether sunscreens prevent melanoma, because they are typically manufactured as cosmetics and tested in human volunteers or synthetic skin models.
Animal testing opponents argue that experiments on animals are cruel and do not contribute meaningfully to medical advances.