Does Sunscreen Really Protect You From Skin Cancer?

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Over the past few weeks, we have focused on giving you the information you need to know about sunscreens to best protect yourself and your loved ones from sun damage. But does sunscreen really help protect you from cancer? Or does it simply stop you from getting a sunburn? According to new research, sunscreen does help prevent skin cancer.

    Researchers at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology recently conducted a study to find out what sunscreen does to your skin and how it helps protect you. The study was published in the journal Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research.

    Your skin contains a gene (called p53) that helps protect you from skin cancer. This gene repairs damaged skin cells. The sun’s rays can damage this gene so it can no longer repair other skin cells, increasing your chance of developing skin cancer. The researchers found that when sunscreen is properly applied, it protects this gene, keeping it healthy and able to repair other cells.

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    The researchers took biopsies of two sites on each of 57 participants. Sunscreen was applied to one site of each set, and the other was left bare. Both sites were then exposed to UV light and re-examined. The scientists found that the sites with sunscreen did not show any DNA damage to the cells. The sunscreen protected the gene that protects and repairs your skin cells.

    Based on their results, they concluded that sunscreen provides protection against the three most common forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. This is important because there has been much debate over whether sunscreen is necessary and whether it helps prevent skin cancer or if it is more cosmetic, stopping you from burning and premature aging. This study tells us that sunscreen is important in the fight against skin cancer.

    The researchers plan to use this information to investigate super sunscreens and after-sun treatments that can repair sun damaged skin.

    For More Information on Sunscreens:

    How to Protect Yourself from the Sun Using Makeup and Sunscreen

    How to Choose the Best Sunscreen For You

    10 Myths About Sunscreen

    Homemade vs. Store Bought Sunscreen


    “Sunscreen Saves Superhero Gene,” 2013, Oct 8, Staff Writer, Queensland University of Technology

    “The Effect of MC1R Variants and Sunscreen on the Response of Human Melanocytes in Vivo to Ultraviolet Radiation and Implications for Melanoma,” 2013, Sept 9, Elke Hacker et al, Jourla of Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research

Published On: April 07, 2014