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Sunscreen: Still a Sun-Safety Essential

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By Laura Nathan-Garner, Staff Writer

Planning to spend some time outdoors this weekend? A new report might have you second-guessing whether you should bother applying sunscreen. Earlier this week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggested that only 8% of sunscreens provide adequate protection -- and that some sunscreens might even speed up the growth of tumors.

Rest assured. We here at MD Anderson still think it's a smart move to use sunscreen.
There's no scientific proof that sunscreen causes cancer. Susan Chon, M.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson Department of Dermatology, says the most likely explanation for some sunscreen users getting skin cancer is that they aren't applying sunscreen often enough or are over-relying on a high SPF.

In fact, most sunscreens didn't make the EWG's cut because they gave users a false sense of security with high SPF numbers. For example, if you use a sunscreen with SPF 60, you might think you can safely stay in the sun twice as long as if you used SPF 30. But you can't.

The protection an SPF offers doesn't increase proportionately with the designated SPF number. SPF 15 absorbs 93% of the sun's burning rays, while SPF 30 absorbs 97%. Increases after that are even smaller.

So instead of worrying about using the sunscreen with the highest SPF, focus instead on how -- and how often -- you apply sunscreen. Get the 411 on how to make sunscreen work for you in this short video.

Also remember that you can't rely on sunscreen alone to protect your skin from cancer.
For more insight on sun-safety and the EWG's report, check out our recent TweetChat with Dr. Chon

How do you plan to protect your skin from the sun this summer?

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