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Researchers: Sunscreen to Better Protect Against Cancer Could Be On Way

New research could lead to sunscreen that offers better protection against skin cancer. (Veronica Carter)
New research could lead to sunscreen that offers better protection against skin cancer. (Veronica Carter)
April 20, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Warmer weather means more time in the sun for Maryland residents, and new research underscores the importance of using sunscreen when outdoors. It says applying sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (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."

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

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 do not contribute meaningfully to medical advances.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD