Less Sun Exposure Is Key to Skin Cancer Prevention

Complete avoidance or wearing protective clothing seen as preferable to sunscreen use

FRIDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Avoiding direct sunlight and wearing clothes that prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching the skin are more effective strategies than sunscreen application to reduce the risk of photoaging and skin cancer, according to a review article published online May 3 in The Lancet.

Stephan Lautenschlager, M.D., of Triemli Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues conducted a Medline search for 1990-2006 articles published in English, French and German with the keywords "sunscreen," "photoprotection" and "sun protection" and identified 200 most-cited articles.

The researchers found that the most effective prevention strategies were completely avoiding sun exposure and seeking shade when sunlight is most intense, followed by wearing hats and protective clothing, and using topical sunscreens.

Nevertheless, "sunscreens will be used by many as the predominant mode of sun protection for various societal reasons (e.g., healthiness of a tan, relaxation in the sun)," the authors write. "Sunscreens should not be abused in an attempt to increase time in the sun to a maximum."

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