There’s more to sun protection than you think
When the editors at Best Health contacted me to write about what’s new in sunscreens, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t dive into the research with great relish. I thought it was a topic that could end up “spinachy”- a term health journalists use for articles that are more medicinal than inspirational. Yes, an important topic, but what more is there to say than stay out of the sun, wear protective clothing and lather on loads of sunscreen to reduce the risk of skin cancer?
Oh, boy. What I actually discovered is that there’s enough debate about sunscreens-and how they are tested, regulated and labelled-to fill a book. After listening to stakeholders and scientists around the world explain some pretty complicated politics, not to mention Ph.D.-level physics, a few key revelations rose. Forget spinachy-this stuff really creamed my corn.
That’s because while all of this debating has been going on, the incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over past decades (and the ozone continues to thin, allowing in more ultraviolet radiation than ever), according to the World Health Organization. The Canadian Cancer Society reported in May that an estimated 5,800 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2012, and approximately 970 will die of the disease. More than 81,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer this year, and 320 are expected to die from it. Clearly there’s plenty riding on the effectiveness of sunscreen protection.
Here’s what I learned.