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Sunscreen Safe, Effective for Reducing Risk for Skin Cancer

Seven consensus statements highlight benefits of sunscreen use for reducing risk for skin cancer; lack of harms to humans

By Dermsquared Editorial Team | May 26, 2021

Sunscreens are safe and effective for reducing the risk for skin cancer, and the proven benefits of use outweigh hypothetical risks, according to a consensus statement published online May 21 in SKIN.

Justin W. Marson, M.D., from the National Society for Cutaneous Medicine in New York City, and colleagues conducted a review of the literature regarding the efficacy and safety of sunscreens in the primary prevention of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. Ninety-six articles were identified and reviewed.

The Skin Cancer Prevention Working Group developed seven consensus statements relating to the efficacy and safety of sunscreen. These statements include that skin cancer has a material impact on public health at the levels of the individual and the general population. One of the major modifiable risk factors for skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation. The risk for skin cancer can be reduced with sun-protective strategies, including use of sunscreen. Adherence to recommended sun-protective strategies is suboptimal among the general public, especially regarding sunscreen use. Studies have not shown that sunscreens cause harms in humans, to date. Insufficient evidence is available to show that sunscreens cause harm to marine ecosystems, including coral reefs. The proven benefits of sunscreen outweigh the theoretical risks.

"As experts in the diagnosis and management of skin cancers, dermatologists are especially well-equipped to discuss with patients the risks of ultraviolet radiation exposure and skin cancer and benefits of multimodal sun-protective measures, including the regular and proper use of sunscreens," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Beiersdorf and Proctor & Gamble.

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