Sunscreen Trends

Posts on social media claim that sunscreen is unnecessary, blocks natural sunlight and contains harmful chemicals. While sunlight exposure can boost mood, regulate sleep and produce vitamin D, the sun’s rays damage skin cells, causing aging, dark spots and wrinkles and increasing the risk of skin cancer.

What Experts Want You to Know

Shocking misinformation on sunscreens continues to surface. For instance, a survey by the Orlando Health Cancer Institute found that one in seven adults under the age of 35 actually believe daily sunscreen use is more harmful than direct sun exposure, and nearly a quarter of respondents believe drinking water can prevent sunburns. Additionally, close to a third feel that a tan makes you look better and healthier.

“When it comes to skin cancer and skin health, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen,”
“I definitely do think it can be dangerous where there does seem to be a lot of misinformation regarding sunscreen and skin cancer and does sunscreen cause skin cancer. We do know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. And we do know that sunscreen it’s a good tool to help prevent us from getting skin cancer.” 
“There is no such thing as a healthy tan, as it’s really just a visual manifestation of damage to the skin. But we’re fighting against a perceived positive image and health benefits of something that actually has a totally opposite reality, which is that suntanned skin represents an increased risk of a deadly disease.”

“No scientific data is suggesting that drinking water provides any protection from the sun.”

“Unfortunately we’re seeing skin cancer more and more in patients of a young age. And because it’s something that’s often not on their radar, it tends to be diagnosed in more advanced stages. We don’t want to discourage people from being outside and being active because there are so many health benefits to that, but it’s also important to know that sun protection can be lifesaving, and the only effective way of protecting yourself is limiting the effects of UV radiation on the skin.”
“There is little evidence supporting the claim that sunscreens are carcinogenic while there is clear-cut evidence of the link between UV radiation exposure and skin cancer.”  
Krista Rubin, nurse practitioner and member of Mass General Cancer Center’s Melanoma Team
“While it’s true that sunscreen blocks ultraviolet B rays from the sun that are important for generating vitamin D in the skin, because most people apply far less than the recommended amount of sunscreen, users typically aren’t deficient in vitamin D.”

“Vitamin D can be obtained from certain foods and as an oral supplement. Concern about vitamin D deficiency should not be a reason to avoid sunscreen.”
Dr. Jennifer Lin, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, and Co-Director, Melanoma Risk and Prevention Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital