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Skin Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Interventions With Inadequate Evidence as to Whether They Reduce Risk of Melanoma

Sunscreen Use and Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Avoidance


There is inadequate evidence to determine whether the avoidance of sunburns or the use of sunscreen alters the incidence of cutaneous melanoma.

Magnitude of Benefit: Unknown.

Study Design: Primarily cohort or case-control studies. A post hoc analysis of one randomized controlled trial of regular sunscreen use versus use at the personal discretion of the control group suggested a possible decrease in melanoma in the regular sunscreen group that emerged years after the trial period ended. However, the numbers were extremely small, and the confidence intervals were consequently very large.[1]
Internal Validity: Poor.
Consistency: Poor.
External Validity: Not applicable (N/A).


The harms of sunscreen use are poorly quantified but are likely to be small, including allergic reactions to skin creams and lower production of vitamin D by the skin with less sun exposure.


  1. Thomas VD, Aasi SZ, Wilson LD, et al.: Cancer of the skin. In: DeVita VT Jr, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, eds.: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. Vols. 1 & 2. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008, pp 1863-87.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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