Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Report Disputes Notion that Sunscreen May Increase Skin Cancer Risk

WebMD Health News

No Reason Not to Use Sunscreen

Dec. 15, 2003 -- Using a sunscreen when you're outside will only lower your risk of skin cancer, not raise it. A new review of research on sunscreen and skin cancer risk disputes recent reports that sunscreen use may increase the risk of melanoma rather than prevent it.

Although melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, the number of people who get melanoma is growing faster than any other type of cancer in the U.S. Approximately 54,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year.

The recent rise in melanoma cases has caused researchers to take a closer look at what factors affect a person's risk of developing the skin cancer. Most researchers believe the increase is largely the result of people spending more time in the sun, but a few recent reports have suggested that sunscreen use may increase rather than decrease the risk of melanoma.

Setting the Record Straight on Sunscreen and Melanoma Risk

In this study, published in the December 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers reviewed all the studies between 1966 and 2003 on the issue of sunscreen use and melanoma risk.

Researchers found no good evidence that people who use sunscreens have a higher risk of melanomas. They say several studies did not take into account the fact that light-skinned people with several risk factors for skincancer tend to use more sunscreen that those at low risk. Despite this, the studies failed to show an association between sunscreen use and increase risk of melanoma among sun-sensitive people.

The major risk factors that may increase the risk for melanoma are:

  • Family history of melanoma
  • Large number of moles and freckles or unusual looking moles
  • Sun sensitivity (light skin color, tendency to burn, inability to tan, etc.)
  • Regular exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds

In addition, researchers say there was no proof of a dose-response effect with frequency of use or years of sunscreen use associated with melanoma risk. Many of the studies were also flawed because they relied only on people's memory of sunscreen use and sun exposure.

But many of the studies were old and did not have information about newer sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of greater than 15, the ability to block both UVB and UVA radiation, and are water-resistant. Researchers say future studies will have to address these issues.

SOURCE: Dennis, L., Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 16, 2003; vol 139: pp 966-978.

Brush up on Beauty

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices