(UNDATED) - Summer means sunscreen, or it should, though new research reminds us that sunscreen isn't perfect.
A study published in the journal Nature says that sunscreen alone, no matter the strength, is not enough to prevent the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma.
"We cannot change genetic factors. The environmental factors we can change," said Dr. Christopher Obeime, dermatologist with St. Vincent Medical Group in Indianapolis.
British researchers used mice to determine how ultraviolet (UV) rays cause changes in the DNA of skin cells, changes that can lead to melanoma. They found that sunscreen could limit, but not eliminate, UV light's threat to cause mutations in a gene that normally helps the body fight development of cancerous tumors.
So slathering on a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, which you should still do so, isn't all you can do to protect yourself. It also includes wearing the right clothing. It includes not being out in the sun between 10 am and 4pm, when (UV rays from) the sun are at their peak.
Dermatologists also say this study is not a contradiction of other studies which show the benefits of sunscreen. Another recent study chronicled the reduction in the rate of melanoma in adults when those people regularly used sunscreen as children. There was also recent research which showed that getting five or more sunburns that blister the skin when you are young dramatically raises your chances of having melanoma as an adult.
Obeime says all this new research means is that sunscreen by itself is not enough protection.
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