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Sunscreen Myths & Facts

The National Cancer Institute has recently updated its skin cancer prevention info:

There are three main types of skin cancer:

1) Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
2) Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
3) Melanoma

BCC & SCC are both referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and they are also the most common forms of skin cancer, but they have substantially better prognoses than the less common, generally more aggressive, melanoma.

The total number and incidence rate of NMSCs cannot be estimated precisely because reporting to cancer registries is not required.

However, using treatment data from Medicare it is estimated that the total number of persons treated for nonmelanoma in 2012 was about 3 million. That is nearly twice as many as all other types of cancer which totaled about 1.6 million.

The incidence of melanoma has been increasing for at least 30 years and in 2017 it is estimated that 87,110 people in the US will be diagnosed with melanoma and approximately 9,730 will die of the disease.

Contrary to popular belief (and egregious marketing), current evidence indicates that using sunscreen does not reduce risk of nonmelanoma or melanoma.

Sunscreen may reduce the incidence of sunburn, but there is no evidence that it reduces the risk of skin cancer. In addition, many sunscreens contain toxic ingredients that are known or suspected of causing serious health problems, some are even linked to an increased risk of skin cancer. To find a safer option use EWG's Sunscreen Guide and follow these skin cancer prevention tips:

1) Seek shade or stay indoors from 10 AM - 2 PM
2) Avoid intentional tanning & tanning beds
3) Cover up - wear long sleeves & pants, a hat with wide brim and UV-blocking sunglasses
4) Keep newborns out of the sun

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