Individuals who use SPF30 sunscreen reduce their risk of developing melanoma by a staggering 80 percent, according to researchers at the Ohio University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Melanoma kills approximately 10,000 people in the United States every year, reports the Skin Cancer Foundation. It’s caused by “intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically exposed to the disease.”
Melanoma is almost always curable if treated early. If it’s not caught early, it can spread to other parts of the body and causes the most deaths out of all types of skin cancer.
Melanoma is one of the highest cancer killers of women in the their late 20s and early 30s.
Christin Burd, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology Medical Genetics at The OSUCCC – James, explained, “Sunscreens are known to prevent skin from burning when exposed to UV sunlight, which is a major risk factor for melanoma. However, it has not been possible to test whether sunscreens prevent melanoma, because these are generally manufactured as cosmetics and tested in human volunteers or synthetic skin models.
“We have developed a mouse model that allows us to test the ability of a sunscreen to not only prevent burns but also to prevent melanoma. This is a remarkable accomplishment. We hope that this model will lead to breakthroughs in melanoma prevention.”
The scientists previously developed a mouse melanoma model in which genetically engineered mice spontaneously developed melanoma about 26 weeks after the chemical 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4OHT) was applied to the skin.
In a new study, the researchers found that if they exposed the genetically engineered mice to a single dose of UVB light one day after applying 4OHT to the skin, melanomas appeared much more rapidly, and there were many more tumors. “Melanoma-free survival was reduced by 80 percent, to about five weeks,” said Burd.
Then scientists tested mice using several sunscreens labeled SPF30 to prevent melanoma. All the different sunscreens delayed melanoma onset and reduced tumor incidence.
“There were some minor differences in melanoma prevention amongst the different SPF30-labeled sunscreens,” Burd revealed. “However, we later discovered that even though the sunscreens were all marketed as SPF30, some were actually predicted to have a higher rating. For this reason, it is hard to compare the melanoma-preventing capacity of the different sunscreens at this time.”