Posted on Oct 31, 2023, 4 p.m.
Although the use of sunscreen is increasing, so are melanoma and skin cancer rates, and this is the sunscreen paradox, according to a recent research led by McGill University.
"The problem is that people use sunscreen as a 'permission slip' to tan," said Dr. Ivan Litvinov, an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and Chair of the Dermatology Division at McGill University and co-author with Dr. Sandra Peláez, Dr. Richie Jeremian and Dr. Pingxing Xie of two recent studies that explore the sunscreen paradox.
People think they are protected from skin cancer because they are using a product marketed to prevent a condition." However, most people don’t use enough or reapply as required, "This gives them a false sense of security," said Litvinov.
23 focus groups were conducted to understand the factors between varying incidence rates of melanoma in the Canadian Atlantic Provinces. In this study, Canadians living in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were found to have high melanoma incidence rates, they were also more likely to report using sun protection, be more aware of the risk of sun exposure, and be more apt to follow the UV Index. However, they also received more sun exposure due to warmer temperatures and tended to engage in more outdoor activities.
In the second study utilizing data from the UK Biobank, the researchers documented that sunscreen use was associated with a more than twofold increased risk of developing skin cancer.
"These combined findings suggest a sunscreen paradox, whereby individuals with higher levels of sun exposure also tend to use more but not an adequate quantity of sunscreen or other sun-protection measures, providing a false sense of security," said Litvinov.
"Sunscreen is important, but it is also the least effective way to protect your skin when compared to sun protective clothing, rash guards, and sun avoidance. People can and should enjoy the outdoors, but without getting a sunburn or a suntan," said Litvinov.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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