Is Higher SPF Better?



Why High SPF Doesn't Always Mean Better Protection

(Sept. 5, 2006) -- Don't let those high-SPF sunscreenslull you into a false sense of security when it comes to skin cancer. Experts say people overestimate just how much protection these products can provide. This leaves us wonderingWhy High SPF Doesn't Always Mean Better Protection?

 

Skin cancer rates have continued to creep upward, at about 3% a year since the early 1980s, according to the U.S. CDC. That includes the deadly melanoma, which is estimated to kill nearly 8,000 people in the United States annually.

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Part of the problem is that many believe that the higher the SPF, the longer you can stay in the sun.

 

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a laboratory measure scientists developed to measure the time it takes skin to burn under UV exposure, but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you know how long it takes you to start burning without protection in the midday sun--say 10 minutes--multiply that by the SPF number. For someone who burns in 10 minutes without protection, a sunscreen with an SPF 30 would deliver 300 minutes of protection against burning, or five hours.

 

"That's the theory, but the SPF physically wears off with rubbing, sweating and water. The protection you get is more likely one hour to 80 minutes," says Dr. Henry Lim, chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital, in Detroit.

 

The best idea is to aim for SPF sunscreens that are 15 or higher, since the higher SPF does offer stronger sun protection, although not necessarily much longer sun protection. An SPF 15 blocks 94% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays.

 

Manufacturers are trying to deliver more foolproof sun protection. Last month, the U.S. FDA approved a new product called Anthelios SX by L'Oreal, which combines three active ingredients to increase UVA protection: a new molecule called ecamsule (marketed as Mexoryl SX), plus avobenzone (Parsol 1789) and octocrylene.

 

Mexoryl SX is one of a new generation of sun blockers that doesn't break down in sunlight, so it extends protection time.

 

Scientists have also been looking at dietary nutrients to boost skin's defenses against UV damage, and some sunscreen products contain antioxidant vitamins C and E already. "There's some scientific evidence of photo-protection, but they don't replace other sunscreen agents, they're adjunctive agents that help," Lim said.

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The ultimate hope is for a sunscreen pill, which you could pop before heading to the beach, with no mess or reapplication required. Already available is Heliocare, a nutritional pill supplement made with a fern extract that offers three hours of UV protection, but it's not meant as stand-alone sunscreen product.






Video: Sunscreen SPF Explained - Speaking of Chemistry Ep.5

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Date: 19.12.2018, 00:20 / Views: 35194