New Study Suggests Typical Use of Sunscreens Offers Less Sun Protection

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Researchers from King’s College London revealed that use of sunscreen offers less than half the sun protection as users apply more thinly than manufacturers recommend.

In a pioneering research of its kind, researchers from King’s College London analyzed the DNA damage in the skin after applying sunscreen with amount manufacturers use to achieve their SPF rating, which is below 2mg/cm2. It was observed that sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50, provides 40% of the expected protection, when applied in a typical way. The study comprised 16 fair-skinned volunteers that were divided into two groups of eight that included three women and five men in each group. The team used ultra-violet ray (UVR) exposure to simulate sunlight. One group exposed to UVR was treated with high SPF sunscreen of varying thickness. The other group was exposed to UVR for consecutive five days — a condition that mimicked a continuous holiday exposure. The biopsies of the UVR exposed areas of skin revealed that the group with repeated UVR exposure suffered from considerable DNA damage in areas that received no sun protection. Moreover, the damage was prevalent although the UVR dose was very low. However, it was observed that the damage was reduced when sunscreen was applied at a thickness of 0.75mg/cm2.

Furthermore, significant recovery from higher UVR doses was evident when 2mg/cm2 of sunscreen was applied. Continuous exposure to UVR for five days with the sunscreen at 2mg/cm2 offered significantly less damage than just one day’s low UVR dose exposure without sunscreen across all samples. The researchers stated that to protect against the cancer causing impact of UVR choosing a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more is necessary. The research was published in the July 2018 edition of journal Acta Dermato Venereologica.

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