A few years ago the European Union banned use of the term “total block" in sunscreen labels because it led to confusion. There is, in fact, no photoprotection that is 100% effective against UV radiation. A study published recently in Nature confirms that sunscreens do not protect fully against melanoma – but this does not mean we should stop using them.
The research – conducted by scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research in London and Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute – demonstrates that even a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 allows some DNA-damaging radiation to penetrate the skin, possibly causing melanoma. This, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, affects every year about 160,000 people worldwide, according to WHO, with the number of cases in Spain increasing by 38% in the last four years.
The study confirms as valid the indications of public campaigns, which, as well as emphasizing the importance of using protection suitable for each skin type and renewing it liberally every two hours, also recommend avoiding sun exposure between 12 and 4 in the afternoon, wearing a hat and sunglasses, consulting your pharmacist if you take medication and monitoring changes in the colour, shape and size of freckles or moles. These measures are well known yet worth repeating, because many people continue to ignore the scientific evidence.