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Sunscreen use in childhood prevents skin cancer in adults

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A recent study has unraveled that consistent use of sunscreen in infancy and childhood could avert risk of developing skin cancer.

The study conducted by the researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute showed that the incidence of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer could be reduced by the use of sunscreen in childhood.

The researchers were seeking to find why despite the increasing use of sunscreen in recent decades, the number of people with malignant melanoma dramatically rising up, according to the paper is published in the scientific journal Pigment Cell and Melanoma.

“While sunscreen is highly effective in preventing sunburn, this paradox has led some to question whether sunscreen is effective in preventing melanoma caused by ultraviolet (UV) light,” said the senior author John L. VandeBerg.

“It has been suggested that sunscreen enables people to receive more UV exposure without becoming sunburned, and that increased exposure to UV light has led to an increasing incidence of melanoma,” he explained.

The researchers tested an over-the-counter facial lotion containing SPF15 sunscreen on the gray short-tailed opossums.

They found that the application of lotion containing sunscreen to infant opossums led to a 10-fold reduction in pre-melanotic lesions, in comparison to infant opossums receiving lotion that did not contain sunscreen.

The experiments also revealed that the pre-melanotic lesions did not appear until the infants had become adolescents (equivalent to early teenagers in humans).

“Sunscreens should be used consistently in childhood, and especially in infancy, because skin cells during growth are dividing much more rapidly than in adulthood, and it is during cell division that the cells are most susceptible to UV-induced damage,” VandeBerg clarified.


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