Posted by Diane Peterson

A relatively alarming news article was published April 8th 2009 regarding the increase in melanoma incidences affecting younger people in Britain. In other industrialized nations, the numbers of precancerous and cancerous skin lesions are also increasing. Skin cancer is currently the most common form of cancer in the U.S. This may be attributed to varying factors such as an increase in the general populace (signifying ratios), exposures to industrial hazardous wastes, poor diet, the use of inappropriate skin products and genetic predisposition. The most significant attributing factor is excessive exposure to solar radiation.

As we find ourselves indulging in outdoor recreations, our exposure to solar radiation increases and with this comes the advice of using sun block as a preventative measure for alluding skin health complications.

Sunscreens contain chemicals proposed to absorb UV rays while sunblocks are intended to reflect the UV rays. The chemicals most often used in sunscreens are cinnamates and benzophenones while sunblocks most often contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

The chemicals used in sunscreens are used for their photosensitizing properties, however; the controversy surrounding their use is plentiful. Benzophenone is a compound commonly used in the printing industry as it is effective at distorting UV light preventing damage to sensitive materials. What is important here is that it only influences UVB rays and yet does not address the more dangerous UVA spectrum.  Influences do not translate into complete blocking, as the biochemical properties of benzophenone react as an anion radical. This is one example of why the controversy grows, as this radical is a potentially carcinogenic structure. Also, if UV light is distorted then the activation of vitamin D is nullified dramatically. As this occurs, There is some evidence arising from correlational studies that the use of sunscreens actually increase the risk of malignant melanoma but at this time it is too early to assume this evidence as valid statistical information.

The use of sun blocks are advised as one of the best ways of preventing skin cancer and the other cosmetic problems associated with premature damaged skin.


By Kevin Meehan