| lavinia k chong m D
Medically reviewed by Lavinia K. Chong, MD, FACS

Admittedly better late than never. May 22, 2015 was National Sunscreen awareness day.

The campaign was strategically launched to encourage “safe sun behaviors”

  • Do Not Burn or Tan
  • Seek Shade
  • Wear SunProtective Clothing
  • Generously Apply Sunscreen
  • Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow, and Sand
  • Get Vitamin D Safely

And what role do sunscreens play? I routinely recommend and use a SPF 20 or above, daily. If you subscribe to the ozone depletion theories, the penetration of UVB has increased. As a simplification, solar energy is composed of UVA, UVB & UVC; the first two are implicated in both skin aging and development of cancer.

UVA (400320nm) comprises 95% of radiation and is the primary emission in tanning booth. It was previously believed that UVA was the principal culprit for photoaging of the skin, however it has now been implicated in damaging keratinocytes and resulting in Basal (BCC) and Squamous Cell carcinomas (SCC). Consider this: tanning booths deliver UVA 12x that of sunlight and it is documented that regular patrons run a 2.5 risk of SCC, 1.5 risk of BCC and 75% risk of melanoma.

UVB (320290nm) targets the superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis, causing redness and sunburn. The peak hours of sun exposure in the U.S. are between 104pm, April to October.

So what’s a So Cal resident to do? Be informed and protect friends and family. Melanoma rates up among US children, young adults. Health Day (6/3, Dallas) reports that research indicates that “melanoma…has increased by 250 percent among U.S. children and young adults since the 1970s.” American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting. There is a glimpse of hope, November 29, 2014, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Sunscreen Innovation Act, which will fasttrack the approval of sunscreen ingredients, which have been available in Europe and Asia for over ten years. Perhaps now, we can not fry now and pay later.

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