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A lot of dilemmas are associated with the use of sunscreen.  Most people's real-life experience with sunscreen is that despite its application, they still sunburn or tan after sun exposure.
Does sunscreen protect against skin cancer? 
Important facts to know about sunscreen
What is the most appropriate way to use sunscreen?

Does sunscreen protect against skin cancer?

Sunscreens certainly prevent sunburn when used well.

Broad spectrum sunscreens can also prevent some aspects of photoageing.

There is evidence that sunscreen can prevent the development of horny skin lesions called actinic keratoses that develop after many years of sun exposure.  There is also evidence that some pre-existing actinic keratoses can regress as well.

There is good evidence that squamous cell carcinoma may be prevented, since actinic keratoses are precursors of this condition.

So far, there is no direct evidence that sunscreens prevent basal cell carcinoma or melanoma, although there is good evidence that sunscreens prevent the development of naevi, which is an important precursor of melanoma.  Intuitively, consistent use from childhood should reduce the risk of both these cancers.

On the downside, it has been shown that high SPF sunscreens are associated with increased time in the sun. As sunscreens prevent the painful burning, some people may feel that they can enjoy swimming and lying in the sun for a longer time.  Unfortunately, as the sunscreen does not provide complete UV protection, some low-grade damage may be building up.


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