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Better Sunscreens on the Way?

Arkansas' skin cancer rate is relatively high, but new research may mean better sunscreens are on the way. (Veronica Carter)
Arkansas' skin cancer rate is relatively high, but new research may mean better sunscreens are on the way. (Veronica Carter)
April 20, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Warmer weather means more time in the sun for Arkansas residents, and new research underscores the importance of using sunscreen when outdoors.

It says applying sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor or SPF of 30 might delay the onset of melanoma.

Dr. Christin Burd, Ph.D. assistant professor with Ohio State University's 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," says Burd. "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."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arkansas has a moderately high rate of skin cancer, with between 18 and 21 people per 100,000 contracting it, and the skin cancer death rate also is high in the state.

Melanoma is one of the few cancer types that continues to grow in the U.S., Burd says with about a three percent increase in diagnosed cases each year. She adds more research will help determine which ingredients in sunscreen provide the strongest protection against melanoma development.

"We think by beginning to do really better research in this area," says Burd. "We might be able to develop even more efficacious sunscreens that would prevent this increase that we continue to see."

She says until now, it hasn't been possible to test whether sunscreens prevent melanoma, because they are typically manufactured as cosmetics and tested on human volunteers or synthetic skin models.

Animal testing opponents have taken the stand that experiments on animals are cruel and don't contribute meaningfully to medical advances.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR