Sunscreen may lull people into a false sense of security, says a new study. Canadian scientists analyzed how people protect their skin from radiation and observed that many people use sunscreens incorrectly, which can lead to serious skin diseases.
Although the use of cosmetics with sunscreen is becoming more and more common, paradoxically, the number of cases of melanoma and other skin cancers is also constantly increasing. Research published in the journals “Cancer” and “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention” shows that although the use of sunscreen is an important element in the prevention of skin diseases, it can sometimes turn out to be treacherous.
To understand the factors that exist between different melanoma incidence rates, a group of Canadian researchers performed two analyses. The first study, published in Cancers, was conducted on a group of people living in the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Participants answered a number of questions about their outdoor activities and the use of sun protection.
The study found that Canadians living in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island – provinces with high rates of melanoma – were more likely to report using sun protection, were aware of the health risks of sun exposure and were more likely to follow UV protection practices. However, these people also had greater exposure to solar radiation due to higher temperatures and a tendency to engage in outdoor activities.
Similarly, in a second analysis published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers documented that sunscreen use was surprisingly associated with more than twice the risk of skin cancer.
The sunscreen paradox
– The results of both analyzes suggest a certain sunscreen paradox, explained Ivan Litvinov from McGill University in Canada, co-author of both analyses. – The problem is that people use sunscreens as a kind of ‘permission to tan’ – he added.
The authors explained that using sunscreen is important, but compared to wearing sun protective clothing and avoiding excessive exposure, it is a less effective way to protect the skin from radiation. Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen or stay in the sun for hours after applying it in the morning. As Litvinov explained, this gives them a false sense of security.
– Campaigns to fill knowledge and practice gaps in sun protection and skin cancer prevention should take into account this paradox regarding radiation protection – added the expert.
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