New rules about to be introduced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States regarding sunscreens will come at an opportune time.
The new rules proposed by the FDA will relate to ratings on the sunscreens which will not only rate how well the preparation protects against the ultraviolet-B rays that cause sunburn (today’s SPF rankings) but also how well they protect against deeper-penetrating ultraviolet-A rays that are linked to cancer and wrinkles.
The introduction of the new rules on sunscreens is supported by strong new evidence which suggests overall sun exposure in childhood is most likely to develop into deadly skin cancer later in life.
The latest research by dermatologists at the University of North Carolina warns that children should be equally protected from the harmful rays of sun by the application of sunscreens.
The research has revealed that patients with the most common known melanoma mutations, called BRAF mutations, also had the highest UV exposure by age 20 and also had the most moles, another important melanoma risk factor.
The researchers say their study indicates that young skin may be particularly vulnerable to damaging UV rays, especially as moles are developing and people who depended only on sunscreen to prevent skin cancer and were not benefited by the product.
Dr. Nancy Thomas who led the UV research says sunscreen is imperfect and activities must be re-schedule to take place when UV irradiation is not quite so high and everyone should check the weather forecast for the day’s “UV index” and stay indoors or in the shade.
UVA, which can even penetrate window glass, varies from state to state, even day to day, because of factors such as altitude, cloud cover and ozone.
Melanoma which is the most lethal form of skin cancer, is expected to strike almost 60,000 Americans this year, and kill some 8,100; it has been on the rise for three decades.
The cancer usually affects people in their 40s or 50s, but is now appearing in ever-younger cases and occasionally even in children.
Experts advise the public to use products with the ingredient Helioplex which is a more sun-stable mix of the sunscreen ingredients avobenzone and oxybenzone that seem to provide longer-lasting UVA protection, but can be more expensive.
They recommend that the sunscreen should be applied a half-hour before going outside because it takes that long to start working and that people limit exposure during the peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.