High School Biology and Chemistry TSS

The Importance of Using Sunscreen

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About 40 – 50% of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once in their lives. Therefore, wearing sunscreen every day is recommended for Americans. This holds true even on cloudy days as 80% of harmful rays can still penetrate the skin. Additionally, wearing sunglasses and a hat is recommended between 10am to 2pm, when the sun’s rays are the most intense (1). 

A new study shows that using sunscreen as a child reduces the risk of melanoma in adulthood by 35 – 40%. The finding also stresses the importance of using sunscreen as a child. “Childhood is thought to be a period of increased susceptibility to the carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet radiation,” Anne Cust, one of the study authors, explains. “From a very young age, children start to develop moles, which are a key risk factor for melanoma throughout life.” However, even if you get burned in childhood, wearing sunscreen in adulthood is still important in reducing the risk of melanoma; sun damage is cumulative so applying, and reapplying, sunscreen can prevent precancerous lesions, skin cancers, and sun damage including wrinkles and sunspots (2).

Unfortunately, people of color are seven times less likely to use sunscreen. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 63% of African Americans have never used sunscreen. Although skin cancer is more common among white people the survival rate for people of color is significantly lower. Black populations are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma and have the lowest survival rate – 69%, compared to a 94% survival rate in white populations. While people of color tend to sunburn less, they still require sunblock for full protection from the sun. Moreover, sun cancer can occur without a sunburn (3).


As part of a health initiative among UCLA, sunscreen company BrightGuard, and nonprofit IMPACT Melanoma, 50 new sunscreen dispensers will be installed throughout coastal locations and parks in Santa Monica and Malibu. These free dispensers will be available until October of 2018 (1).


(1) “Free Sunscreen Coming to Beach Near You.” Santa Monica Mirror, 3 Aug. 2018, https://smmirror.com/2018/08/free-sunscreen-coming-to-beach-near-you/

(2) Watts, Caroline G. “Sunscreen Use and Melanoma Risk Among Young Australian Adults.” JAMA Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, 18 July 2018, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/2687549

(3) Mic. “People of Color Are Less Likely to Use Sunscreen – and These Skincare Brands Are Looking to Fix That.” Mic, Mic Network Inc., 17 July 2018, https://mic.com/articles/190298/skincare-sunscreen-brands-for-people-of-color-darker-skin-tones#.EgMmSkAUO

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