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SPF 15+ Reduces Skin Cancer Risk According to a New Study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology

by Will / September, 21 2016 01:30

Woman on the beach protecting her face from the sun with a hat

As a suncare company we love reading new research. One of the most interesting studies we've seen recently concluded that using an SPF 15 or greater sunscreen has the potential to reduce melanoma by 18% according to the Journal of Clinical Oncology. For something so easy to do, just slap on sunblock as part of your daily routine, we think that's pretty great.

Study Conclusion: Use SPF 15 or Higher to Ward Off Melanoma

Let's cut to the chase. Here is a direct quote from the study.

Use of SPF ≥ 15 rather than SPF < 15 sunscreens reduces melanoma risk. Moreover, use of SPF ≥ 15 sunscreen by all women age 40 to 75 years could potentially reduce their melanoma incidence by 18%.

So if that's all you read, look for sunblock that is SPF 15 or higher and make sure it says "broad spectrum" on the label (our sunscreens for example) so you know you're getting UVB and UVA protection.

Reapply Every 2 Hours and Immediately After Swimming or Sweating

In an interview with Reuters, Reza Ghiasvand, the study's lead researcher, said

...people often don't reapply sunscreen as recommended. As a result, they end up with sunburns that increase their risk of melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recommendation is to reapply once every two hours and immediately after swimming and sweating. Mnay folks mistakenly belive that once sunblock is applied it doesn't need to be applied again.

This is also one reason for conflicting results regarding sunblock and skin cancer in past research. According to Ghiasavand:

While it may seem obvious that sunscreen with a higher SPF would protect against skin cancer, the study's lead author said past research produced conflicting results, in part because many sunscreen users don't apply sunscreens properly.

It seems people will apply sunscreen and assume they can sit in the sun all day which is just not the case.

Use About a Shot Glass Full for the Entire Body

Also, we know from other studies that most folks are unaware of how much to apply. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends one fluid ounce for the entire body. That's about a shot glass' worth of sunscreen. Our post "How Much Sunscreen Should You Use?" breaks this down by body part for you.

Cover All Exposed Skin

Ghiasvand also mentioned one more issue:

Another problem with sunscreen use is that people don't use it on all exposed areas and get burned on the missed areas," he said. "Neck, temples and ears are the most common sites that are usually missed.

If you are wondering where some of these spots are, check out our blog posts "The Top 6 Body Parts People Forget to use Sunscreen On" and "10 Critical Spots You're Forgetting to Apply Sunscreen".

Research Methodology: Who, What, When and Where

So you've read through the results but how did they come up with them? Well, the research was done by Reza Ghiasvand of the University of Oslo in Norway. The data comes from 143,844 women aged 40 to 75. The initial data was collected between 1991 to 2007 with follow up data taken over the next 11 years. They examined women who had never used SPF, used SPF < 15 and used SPF > or = to 15. Over that time period 722 women developed melanoma. The research results can be found here.

So Many Benefits - Just Use Sunblock

A little heavy handed by us but the truth is sunscreen has so many benefits. It prevents skin cancer, fights wrinkles, slows skin aging, and so much more. It's also very simple to use. Whether in your moisturizer or a dedicated susncreen, adding an SPF 15 or greater broad spectrum sunscreen product to your year round daily routine is a must.

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