Sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent in young people

July 19, 2018, University of Sydney
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A world-first study led by University of Sydney has found that Australians aged 18-40 years who were regular users of sunscreen in childhood reduced their risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent, compared to those who rarely used sunscreen.

Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men aged 25-49 years and second most common cancer in women aged 25-49 years, after breast cancer. Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with or other types of skin by the time they are 70 years old.

Published today in JAMA Dermatology, this is the first study to examine the association between sunscreen use with melanoma risk in young people under 40 years. The study analysed data collected from nearly 1700 people who participated in the Australian Melanoma Family Study.

"Our study shows that sunscreen use in childhood and adulthood was protective against melanoma in 18-40 years old, with their risk reduced by 35 to 40 percent for regular sunscreen users compared to people who rarely used it," said lead researcher Associate Professor Anne Cust, who heads the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research group at the University of Sydney's School of Public Health and Melanoma Institute Australia.

"The association of sun exposure and sunburn with melanoma risk, particularly in childhood, is well established and this study showed that regularly using sunscreen was protective against the harmful effects of sun exposure.

"Regular users of sunscreen were more likely to be female, younger, of British or northern European ancestry, and have higher education levels, lighter skin pigmentation, and a strong history of blistering sunburn.

"People were less likely to use sunscreen if they were male, older, less educated, or had skin that was darker or more resistant to sunburn.

"Despite sunscreen being widely available and recommended for sun protection, optimising the use of sunscreens remains a challenge and controversies continue to surround its use.

"This study confirms that sunscreen is an effective form of sun protection and reduces the risk of developing melanoma as a young adult. Sunscreen should be applied regularly during childhood and throughout adulthood whenever the UV Index is 3 or above, to reduce risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.

"Some population subgroups such as people with sun-sensitive or with many moles might get a stronger benefit from using ," she said.

Explore further: Strategies to avoid sunburn

More information: Caroline G. Watts et al, Sunscreen Use and Melanoma Risk Among Young Australian Adults, JAMA Dermatology (2018). DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.1774

Related Stories

Strategies to avoid sunburn

June 15, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you could protect yourself from cancer, you'd do it, right? Yet most Americans still aren't taking the easiest step to prevent the most commonly diagnosed type—skin cancer, which will affect one in five ...

High factor sunscreen can decrease the risk of melanoma by 33 percent

September 14, 2016
A large study published by the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Oslo in the highly ranked Journal of Clinical Oncology found that using high factor sunscreen compared with low factor sunscreen can decrease ...

Here comes the sun, and kid sun safety

May 25, 2018
(HealthDay)—Summer sun brings childhood fun, but experts warn it also brings skin cancer dangers, even for kids.

Expert spotlights early detection for melanoma awareness month

May 1, 2017
May brings Melanoma Awareness Month, along with the Memorial Day holiday and the beginning of summer vacations. With longer days and more outdoor activities, Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. Ida Orengo, professor of dermatology, ...

Sunscreen 101

May 17, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many people make mistakes when using sunscreen that could increase their risk of skin cancer, a new study suggests.

Recommended for you

Student develops microfluidics device to help scientists identify early genetic markers of cancer

October 16, 2018
As anyone who has played "Where's Waldo" knows, searching for a single item in a landscape filled with a mélange of characters and objects can be a challenge. Chrissy O'Keefe, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical ...

A bad influence—the interplay between tumor cells and immune cells

October 16, 2018
Research at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) yielded new insights into the environment surrounding different types of lung tumors, and described how these complex cell ecosystems may in turn ...

Technique to 'listen' to a patient's brain during tumour surgery

October 16, 2018
Surgeons could soon eavesdrop on a patient's brain activity during surgery to remove their brain tumour, helping improve the accuracy of the operation and reduce the risk of impairing brain function.

Researchers elucidate roles of TP63 and SOX2 in squamous cell cancer progression

October 16, 2018
Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are aggressive malignancies arising from the squamous epithelium of various organs, such as the esophagus, head and neck, lungs, and skin. Previous studies have demonstrated that two master ...

Function of neutrophils during tumor progression unraveled

October 15, 2018
Researchers at The Wistar Institute have characterized the function of neutrophils, a type of white blood cells, during early stages of tumor progression, showing that they migrate from the bone marrow to distant sites and ...

Delving where few others have gone, leukemia researchers open new path

October 15, 2018
A Wilmot Cancer Institute study uncovers how a single gene could be at fault in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the deadliest cancers. The breakthrough gives researchers renewed hope that a gene-targeted therapy could ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.