Sunscreen Could Increase Risk of Skin Cancer

We are used to hearing that sunscreen is a must if you want to spend time outdoors. The effect UV has on the skin is harmful and can lead to diseases, including cancer, so protecting it against UV rays sounds reasonable. However, it turns out that the use of sunscreen can lead to an increased risk of developing cancer, and it’s not always the chemicals contained in it that are to blame.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Christian Wheatley

We are used to hearing that sunscreen is a must if you want to spend time outdoors. The effect UV has on the skin is harmful and can lead to diseases, including cancer, so protecting it against UV rays sounds reasonable. However, it turns out that the use of sunscreen can lead to an increased risk of developing cancer, and it’s not always the chemicals contained in it that are to blame.

Sunscreen is used to protect the skin from UV rays, which can contribute to development of serious diseases. We are told that applying sunscreen several times a day can keep the effects of ultraviolet radiation at bay, but it turns out that using such lotions and creams does not guarantee security and can even do more harm than good. How is that possible?

Hidden danger

There are two kinds of ultraviolet rays. One of them, called type B, is what sunscreen solutions aim to block. Such rays are able to cause squamous cell carcinoma and some other forms of skin cancer that belong to the non-melanoma cancer type, and it is UVB that causes sunburn.

Its counterpart is ultraviolet A, which remains a mystery. It is known that UVA is capable of affecting deeper layers of the skin, and it is supposed that its effects are even more dangerous than those of UVB.

Image Credit: coolasuncare.com

Many sunscreen products can block only UVB, so your skin is still affected by UVA even when every inch of your body has some nifty lotion applied to it.

The paradox of sunscreen

Have you ever given some thought to the fact that sunscreen lotions and creams have been gaining popularity for a long time–and it’s common knowledge that sunbathing without sunscreen can result in sunburns or something worse–but the annual number of skin cancer cases is increasing?

It appears that using sunscreen makes people believe they are not affected by UV rays any more, which leads to spending more time in the sun and actually increasing the amount of time UVA, which is usually not blocked, has access to deeper layers of the skin. Most sunscreen lotions are aimed at protecting the person applying it only from UVB, regardless of SPF rating.

Changes in sunbathing behavior resulting from sunscreen product use lead to less sunburns, as there is UVB behind them, but also to receiving a larger dose of the harmful UVA.

Another danger lurking in the liquids of sunscreen is the chemicals used to protect the skin. Some of them can cause allergy (and the sunlight itself can do it too, by the way) or affect hormone production, as well as damage some of the skin tissues.

Don’t neglect the Sun

Being afraid of going outside isn’t likely to help you stay healthy. Many studies showed that spending some time of the day with your skin exposed to sunlight is not just beneficial – it is essential. Sunlight can improve our mood and causes the skin to trigger processes that lead to vitamin D production. It’s difficult to find vitamin D in foods, so sunlight is a thing human beings need to help maintain body functioning.

Thyroid patients may benefit from moderate sunbathing, and in most cases reasonably-timed sessions of exposing the skin to sunlight are a must. The fact that many sunscreen lotions do not protect your skin from UVA does not mean that you should hide in some dark corner of your house and brick up windows. Go outside, have a nice stroll, go skiing or swimming, do something else that requires moving – going in for sports can be even more beneficial if it’s outdoors and in the countryside, as fresh air and sunlight can cooperate with exercise to maximize the effect.

Apply sunscreen, but don’t be lulled into spending too much time sunbathing only because you are “protected” by the lotion: follow simple rules of sunbathing, and enjoy the sun and nature we are blessed to have!

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