26 September 2023

Study shows sunscreen can save skin

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A review into the effectiveness of sunscreen has found it to be safe to use and when applied correctly it could reduce the risk of skin cancer and sunburn.

Releasing the findings of the review, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) said there were benefits and risks associated with sunscreens, including how it should be used for effectiveness, and there was also work to be done to change the behaviour of Australians so they used sunscreen correctly.

Lead author of the review and Assistant Director, Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) Exposure Assessment at ARPANSA, Stuart Henderson said the review examined the benefits and risks of sunscreens, compliance requirements and how sunscreen should be used for optimal effectiveness.

“Results showed there is still work required to change behaviour of Australians to use sunscreen and apply it correctly,” Dr Henderson said.

“Behaviour change takes time and persistence and we have seen really positive evidence of Australians protecting their skin from UVR over the years,” he said.

“There is still work to be done to ensure people apply enough sunscreen frequently enough to provide good protection and there is also a need to combine this with hats, clothing, sunglasses and shade.”

Dr Henderson said the review recommended continued regulation and long-term skin cancer prevention policies and programs to promote effective use of sunscreen and other sun protection measures.

He said the testing methods currently available to determine the efficacy of sunscreen products were not ideal with current testing relying on “applying UVR to the skin of volunteers to determine the ability of sunscreens to prevent skin reddening or sunburn”.

“We advocate strongly for further research to develop a suitable testing method that does not involve exposing people to harmful UV,” he said.

ARPANSA’s seven-page Review Paper, Effectiveness, compliance and application of sunscreen for solar ultraviolet radiation protection in Australia, can be accessed at this PS News link.

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