Paradoxical findings problems with use of sunscreen as a primary prevention aim

Protecting against sun damage and reducing the risk of sunburn and skin cancers involves behavioural choices. Studies demonstrate that increased use of sunscreens often means a reduction in other photo-protective methods: wearing of hats and protective clothing and the use of shade (see Figure 22.1), thus increasing net sun exposure. Most sunscreens are made to prevent against sunburn and most sunburn, in both children and adults, occurs during intentional exposure to the sun.11-14 The use of sunscreens, including those with high SPFs, during intentional exposure has been found to have little effect on the occurrence of sunburn.15-17 This is concordant with the results from surveys of beachgoers which suggest that increased overreliance on sunscreens reduces the use of other protective measures. Individuals seem to balance protective behaviours according to personal motivation and characteristics and the desire for a suntan.18-24

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