Sunscreen cannot provide total protection from UV damage

New research has been published reminding consumers that sunscreen does not provide total protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The study, carried out by scientists at Manchester University and London’s Institute of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), made significant findings regarding the link between UV exposure and melanoma.

As part of the study, researchers looked at the effects of UV on skin at a cellular level, testing skin with no sunscreen on and skin with SPF 50 sunscreen on. Researchers noted that skin with the sunscreen suffered significantly less DNA damage from the UV, meaning the risk of developing melanoma was greatly reduced.

However, the researchers did say that sunscreen did not offer complete protection against DNA damage.

The study found that UV light damages the p53 gene in the skin, which normally helps to protect from the effects of DNA damage caused by UV light. Even with sunscreen on, the study found, the p53 gene could still sustain some damage.

Richard Marais, author of the study and a Cancer Research UK scientist, said that the research highlights the importance of combining sunscreen with other sun protection, such as wearing hats and loose clothes when in the sun.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at CRUK, warned, “People tend to think they’re invincible once they’ve put sunscreen on, and end up spending longer in the sun, increasing their overall exposure to UV rays.”

Director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association Chris Flower commented the product manufacturers should never recommend that sun care products should be used to stay out in the sun for longer.