The world-first study of 18 to 40 year olds found that regular use of sunscreen reduced the risk of potentially deadly melanoma by 40 percent compared to those who rarely used it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between two and three million non-melanoma skin cancers and 1,32,000 melanoma skin cancers occur each year globally.
“The association of sun exposure and sunburn with melanoma risk, particularly in childhood, is well established and this study showed that regularly using sunscreen was protective against the harmful effects of sun exposure,” lead researcher, Associate Professor Anne Cust, from Sydney University’s School of Public Health and Melanoma Institute said.
Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma or other types of skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.
But according to Cust, it is still difficult to get people to regularly apply sunscreen, and that likelihood to do so depended on a number of factors.
“Regular users of sunscreen were more likely to be female, younger, of British or northern European ancestry, and have higher education levels, lighter skin pigmentation, and a strong history of blistering sunburn,” Cust said.
“People were less likely to use sunscreen if they were male, older, less educated, or had skin that was darker or more resistant to sunburn.”
In collaboration with researchers from around the country, Cust and her team analysed data of around 1,700 people who participated in the Australian Melanoma Family Study.
“This study confirms that sunscreen is an effective form of sun protection and reduces the risk of developing melanoma as a young adult,” Cust said.
Dr Amit Karkhanis, director of Dr Tvacha Clinic, said, “The risk of skin cancer can be reduced by applying sunscreen lotion. Both UVA and UVB rays are harmful for the skin and raise the risk of skin cancer. Therefore, sunscreen should be applied before venturing outdoors. A spf 30 sunscreen should be applied every 3-4 hours”