Protected sun exposure may help fight skin cancer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sun exposure, Sunscreen, Skin cancer

A medical study conducted at the University of New Mexico in the US
has concluded that exposure to sunlight might stop skin cancers.
Both industry and cancer associations have said that further
research is warranted in this area, while also stating that
sunscreen protection remains as vital as ever.

The study found that exposure to sun helped beat the deadly skin cancer malignant melanoma and concluded that vitamin D, produced in the skin during exposure, is probably the main reason why cancer cells were deterred.

The researchers looked at the influence of sun exposure in connection to the risk of dying from malignant melanoma, which is currently the biggest single killer in many developed countries, including the UK and Australia.

They concluded that patients suffering from skin cancer who had a higher level of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients with limited sun exposure.

But the findings carry a contradictory message, as cancer associations and medical experts continue to stress that excessive sun exposure can lead to permanent skin damage that can cause skin cancer to appear in the first place.

In an interview with the BBC Cancer Research UK conceded that patients who already had melanoma and who had a significant amount of exposure to the sun were less prone to aggressive types of tumour.

However, the body also sent out a message of caution, emphasizing that its research indicates that sun exposure can also cause melanoma in the first place.

CRUK's Dr Julia Newton Bishop told the BBC, "Therefore the public health message should remain unchanged.

"It is important to remember that covering up during peak hours of sunshine, seeking shade and wearing factor 15 plus sunscreen, as advised in Cancer Research UK's SunSmart campaign, are still the best ways to avoid sunburn that can lead to skin cancer."

A recent report from Cancer Research UK​ shows that there are still 'alarming' levels of ignorance as to the causes of skin cancer and how to reduce it. Of 4,000 people questioned two thirds were unaware that obesity and a poor diet can increase the chances of skin cancer.

However, on a more positive note, the findings indicated that the vast majority of those questioned were aware that sunburn caused skin cancers and that sun protection using sunscreen was an appropriate means of avoiding this risk.

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