Hot off the press! The answer is.... NOT ENTIRELY, and the reason applies 365 days a year! Just reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, UVA1 is more cancer causing than we thought. UVA1 is the hardest part of the sun's UV rays to block with sunscreen. It's different from the sunburn ray UVB, and even different from UVA2 (which falls between UVA1 and UVB). You've heard that the sun causes skin cancers. You also occasionally hear that before 10 or after 3pm, and during the non-summer months, the sun is less dangerous. You've probably noticed that the sun feels less intense during these times and you might let your guard down. Well, the sunburn ray UVB is softer then, but UVA is out with the same intensity as always. In fact, all day, all year UVA is equally intense; sun-up to sun-down, equatorial location or north pole, summer or winter it doesn't change. This new study gives you more reason to want UVA rays off of your skin. The investigators found mutated DNA (thymine dimers) in the deepest parts of the top epidermal layer of the skin after UVA1 exposure. Those mutations are how skin cancers start. We already knew that UVA exposure causes free radical damage to skin leading to wrinkles, skin thinning, and generally accelerated skin aging. UVA exposure has also been correlated with an increased risk of developing the type of skin cancer called melanoma, but the full story between UVA exposure and skin cancer has had some gaps. This new study is part of filling in those gaps. What you probably don't know is that sunscreens aren't all that great at protecting your skin from this UVA1. It's why sunscreens are controversial. They keep the UVB off pretty well, slowing your development of a sunburn, which allows you to stay in the sun longer.......getting more UVA1. In the US the only sunscreens that we have which I think block UVA1 well are the micronized zinc oxide sunscreens. Even with the micronized zinc products though there is huge product variability in my experience. That’s why I only recommend Solbar Zinc, Citrix and Glycolix Elite Sunscreens (see below). I’ve watched these protect my patients for years and trust them. What it means for you?
- Your really do need to keep the sun off your skin year round.
- Sunscreens alone aren't good enough. When you’re planning to be out in that sun for a long period of time you need clothing, broad brimmed hats and shade for sun protection too.
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