New Orleans – A research team from the Ohio State University tested the efficiency of common sunscreen products against the development of Melanoma in mice. The team focused on sunblock with at least 30 Sun Protection Factor (SFP). They presented the results at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting.

Places like playgrounds, parks, sports courts and many others, are too exposed and usually lack proper infrastructure that people could use to shelter themselves against UV light. Credit: Skin Cancer Foundation

Since sunscreen is a common product that people use only to go to the beach, it had not been seriously considered in the war against cancer until the team led by Christin Burd decided to give it a try. They used mice as experimental subjects and 30 SFP products; the research team applied the lotion on the mice and then exposed them to Ultra Violet (UV) light.

When the study was completed, they concluded that using this kind of product delays the development of melanoma in the animals. However, there is no guarantee that the effect is going to be similar in human beings.

In spite of this, the experiment brings actual progress on the battle against Melanoma which is the most fatal form of skin cancer in the United States with at least 9000 people dying from it every year.

The problem

Melanoma is very common in The United States where the cost of treating the patients is around $450 million per year. In 2011, there were 65000 diagnosis which is a number that has been steadily growing for decades. People think they only have to protect against sun radiation when they are on the beach, but the problem goes far beyond that.

There are many other times when people are exposed UV light, and even though we need it for our bodies to produce vitamin D, the excess of it is a very real threat. Tanning salons became very common in the 90’s and the lack of regulation on these industry puts its customers on peril. In addition, many times these places are run by unexperienced staff who have no idea on the risk that artificial tans have.

Additionally, many experts urge the government to raise awareness on the issue. Places like playgrounds, parks, sport courts and many others, are too exposed and usually lack proper infrastructure that people could use to shelter themselves against UV light.

Sunscreen works in mice

The research team from the Ohio State University claims that sunblock with at least 30 SPF delays the development of Melanoma in mice, the paper has not been through peer inspection, and yet, it seems promising. But what is this Sun Protection Factor they talk about?

Well, it’s actually very simple. When people are exposed to sun light for too long, their skin will eventually be burned by it. Depending on your physiology, it may be after 15 minutes of exposure or more. Sunscreens create a barrier on your body against the UV rays which allows you to stay in the sun for much longer without having a scratch. Right now, there are lotions that have 15, 30 and 50 SPF among many others, but what does that mean?

If your skin starts burning after being in the sun for 10 minutes, a 15 SPF will allow you to stay for 150 minutes, or in other words, 15 times longer. However, this time will greatly change from person to person and it will depend on what he or she is doing. If you are swimming, for example, you will need to reapply sunscreen more often that someone who is just fishing.

Why is sunlight dangerous to us? It is because of photons. The extreme radiation of those will damage our body cells and make them turn into cancer. A 15 SPF lotion will block 93% of UVB rays and will let through 7 photons out of 100. On the other hand, a 30 SPF product will block 97% of UBV rays which is not a big difference from the previous one. However, it will allow only 3 photons out 100 into the skin which doubles the amount of protection.

These products can be found at any drugstore for $10 and there is a wide range of brands to choose from. The results of the study are still preliminary, but it might not be a bad idea to use sunscreen if you have to really have to be in the sun for a lot of time.

Source: Fox News