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SPF15 not strong enough protection against cancer

1st June 2011

A medical journal has recommended that people should use stronger sun creams to protect against the risk of skin cancer.

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The Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin also suggests that guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are not adequate.

NICE said that sun cream of SPF15 is sufficient if applied adequately.

However, the journal said people rarely applied enough sun cream and that SPF30 should be recommended instead.

Research has show SPF is strong enough if it is applied thickly – at a standard set at 2 mg/cm² - but most people apply at 0.4 and 1.5 mg/cm².

Bulletin editor Dr Ike Iheanacho described the NICE recommendation to use sunscreens with an SPF as low as 15 as “a blunder” and needed urgent review and correction.

The journal recommended that: “Products labelled with an SPF of 30 will more reliably deliver adequate sun protection to most people who use sunscreens and would be sufficient to prevent sunburn under most circumstances.”

NICE said the guidelines were balanced and for England, not hotter climates.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE, said: “We commissioned an expert report on the use of sunscreen in preventing skin cancer in England. According to this evidence, which was presented to the committee, SPF15 should be sufficient as long as it is applied adequately.”

He also said sunshine was good for people in that it provided a good source of vitamin D and the opportunity to be physically active outdoors.

 

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