Sunscreen and Kids: Early Protection Reduces Skin Cancer Risk

Summary
Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that produce harmful effects on the skin. Prolonged exposure to sunlight is a primary cause for various cancers of the skin. It also causes premature aging of the skin. Exposure to sunlight during childhood is higher and also more dangerous than in adulthood. The researchers of the present study reviewed various studies related to sun exposure in children. Factors that cause skin cancer in children, sun protection methods currently used and possible precautions were discussed. “Protecting the skin against the harmful effects of UV-radiation is a crucial measure in cancer prophylaxis.”

Introduction
Ultraviolet radiations in sunlight causes damage to the DNA in skin cells, which in turn leads to the onset of cancer. Among various cancers, exposure to sunlight in childhood increases the risk of a particular type of cancer known as melanoma. Recent guidelines from the Recommendation of European Union stress avoidance of sun exposure in children, to reduce the incidence of skin malignancies. There are two types of UV rays, A and B, and both can cause cancer. Premature aging of the skin from exposure to sunlight is due to excess production of oxidants at the site of exposure. Oxidants damage the collagen present in skin, which results in increased laxity of skin. The researchers of the current study evaluated various protective measures, especially sunscreen lotions, which are used for reducing the damage caused by UV rays. The present review has highlighted the guidelines from the European Union Recommendations.

Methodology
The researchers looked at various studies that examined different sunlight protective measures. They especially concentrated on studies done on sunscreen lotions. Many studies have been conducted to look at the safety aspects of these lotions and the required dosage of various agents. The researchers also reviewed articles on recent developments in the field of sunscreen products, especially waterproof products.

Results/Key findings
* Exposure to sunlight one to two hours before and after the sun reaches its peak is more dangerous (this peak time varies greatly by geographic location). Almost 50 percent of UV exposure occurs during this time.
* More than 20 sunlight-absorbing filters are presently available. Their capacity to protect against sunlight depends on the types of UV rays that they absorb. For adequate protection, application of about 2 mg of sunlight filter per sq cm of skin is necessary. But on an average, less than 0.5 to 1 mg per sq.cm is applied.
* Some studies have reported hormonal side effects due to absorption of sunlight filters through the skin. But the findings could not be confirmed in animal experiments.
* Recently, new chemicals have been discovered that protect against sunlight, not by blocking it, but rather by their antioxidant properties. Some waterproof sunscreen lotions are being developed now. These will have protective capacity even after mixing with water.
* Some studies found teens had more resistance to wearing sunscreen viewing it as “uncool,” but two weeks of education saw some changed attitudes

Conclusion
This study has highlighted the role of protective measures in preventing sunlight-induced cancers. Avoiding sun exposure, especially in childhood, can help immensely in preventing skin malignancies later in life. There is a need for mass campaigns such as those conducted in Australia and Germany, to educate the public regarding the adverse effects of sunlight exposure. To avoid exposure in early childhood, parents must be educated, especially mothers as they are generally the ones that spend more time with their kids. Protection can be obtained by the use of protective clothing, hats and also by sunscreen lotions. Application of adequate amounts of sunscreen lotions is necessary for sufficient protection. Exposure to sunlight must be avoided, especially during the one to two hours before and after the time of the sun reaching the peak.

For More Information:
Children and Sun Protection
Publication Journal: British Journal of Dermatology, 200
By Mark Berneburg; C. Surber; Eberhard Karls Universitat, Tubingen, Germany and Universitatsspital Basel, Switzerland

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

 



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