Regular use of sunscreen during a clinical trial of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas was found to reduce the incidence of another type of skin cancer, melanoma, up to 10 years later, according to a new study published December 6, 2010 in an online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The study showed that applying sunscreen every day to the head, neck, arms and hands reduced the chances of getting melanoma by half.
The study of 1,600 white adults randomized the participants into two groups 1) those that applied sunscreen every day and 2) those that applied sunscreen at their own discretion (prn).
During the 10-year follow-up period the researchers found that 11 people who used sunscreen daily were diagnosed with melanoma, compared to 22 people in the “discretionary use” group.
In addition, those that developed melanoma in the daily use” group were less likely to develop invasive melanoma, which is more difficult to effectively treat, than those in the “discretionary group”.
In a new story by Top News that covered the study, “Melanoma Risk ‘Lessens’ by Using Sunscreen“, Dr. Howard Kaufman, the Director of the Rush University Cancer Center in Chicago and a melanoma expert pointed out that “We have known for a long time that sunscreen prevents squamous and basal cell carcinomas but the data on melanoma has been a little bit confusing”.
This study strengthens the evidence showing that excessive UV exposure from the sun can increase the risk of developing melanoma, and that protecting oneself from those damaging UV rays can help to reduce that risk.