More Benefits Of Slathering Sunscreen: Fewer Wrinkles

After yesterday’s downpours, it’s honest-to-God sunscreen weather today. And if you’re like me — slathering sunscreen all over the kids but not bothering to slather myself until I’m hunkered down for a day at the beach — think again. A new, attention-grabbing study out this week bolsters the evidence that sunscreen should be a critical part of everyone’s daily health regimen.

The new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that daily use of sunscreen can help minimize wrinkles and aging skin. The Wall Street Journal reports that “people instructed to apply sunscreen every day showed 24% less skin aging, as measured by lines and coarseness of the skin, than those told to use the cream as they usually do.”



Here are more details from the Journal:

This study, part of a long-running skin-cancer-prevention trial, covered 903 adults younger than 55 living in Nambour, Australia, near the country’s Sunshine Coast. All study participants were given sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15+. Half were randomly to be instructed to apply the sunscreen daily to exposed areas, reapplying after water immersion, heavy sweating or several hours spent outdoors, while half were told to use it as they normally would.

By the end of the study, which was funded by the Australian government, 77% of those told to use sunscreen daily were using it at least three to four days a week, compared with 33% of the control group. (The sunscreen was provided by a sunscreen manufacturer.)

Researchers took silicone impressions of the backs of participants’ hands at the beginning of the study and after 4½ years. Trained assessors then graded the patterns of lines and skin coarseness on the hand impressions on a scale of one to six. The damage seen on the surface of the skin reflects the tissue damage underneath the skin, said Adèle Green, senior scientist and head of cancer and population studies at Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia and lead author of the study.

The New York Times also covered the study, and noted that until now, “most studies of sun-damaged skin were conducted with mice, not people, and it was not clear whether the results would be the same.”

Dr. Barbara A. Gilchrest, a dermatology professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and the editor of The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, said she, too, found the study convincing. Continue reading

Study: Teens Ignore Public Health Push For Sunscreen, Against Tanning

But did she use sunscreen?

Today I felt like stripping down naked outside and sucking up enough sunshine and vitamin D to get me through the winter. I did not, I’ll admit, think much about sunscreen.

Well, apparently, nor did a great swath of kids from Massachusetts. These adolescents (mostly girls) ranging in age from 10 to 13 were surveyed as part of a study in the journal Pediatrics this month that found despite an aggressive public health push promoting sunscreen and dissing golden tans, the message isn’t getting across.

Time’s Healthland reports:

Researchers surveyed 360 Massachusetts fifth graders, mostly aged 10 and 11, in 2004 about their sun-related behaviors, and then followed up with them again in 2007, when the kids were in eighth grade. Over those three years, the study found, teens sunbathed more often and used sunscreen less.

In fifth grade, half of kids said they used sunscreen “often or always” while out in the summer sun. By eighth grade, that percentage had dropped to 25%. In both surveys, more than half of kids reported having experienced a sunburn in the previous year, and the risk of sunburn increased most in “very fair to fair” teens — those who are at greatest risk.

Why? Likely vanity, in part: as they got older, teens were more likely to report “liking a tan.” Continue reading

FDA Issues New Rules On Marketing Sunscreen — After 33 Years

I remember my grandmother sitting on the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, holding up one of those cardboard reflectors trying to get a nice tan. I tried to explain those reflectors to my kids, but they didn’t really get it. Every morning these days, they stand, dutifully, arms and legs apart, waiting for the morning sunscreen ritual.

Now, just as their summer vacation begins, the FDA has issued new rules on marketing sunscreens to help consumers figure out which products are most effective. Notably, in order to now claim “broad spectrum” coverage, sunscreens must protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.

The New York Times notes that the FDA has been considering these sunscreen rules, “since 1978, when “Boogie Oogie Oogie” was a hit on the radio and most beach lotions were intended to encourage tanning, not protect against it. But federal regulators said they had yet to decide whether to end an SPF arms race in which manufacturers are introducing sunscreens with SPF numbers of 70, 80 and 100 even though such lotions offer little more protection than those with an SPF of 50.”

From the FDA’s web site, here’s why the rules (which will take effect next year) are being changed:

FDA is making changes to how sunscreens are marketed in the United States as part of the Agency’s ongoing efforts to ensure that sunscreens meet modern-day standards for safety and effectiveness and help consumers have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families. Prior rules on sunscreens dealt almost exclusively with protection against only ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun, and did not address skin cancer and early skin aging caused by ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Continue reading