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Study Shows Sunscreen Doesn't Block All Types of UV Rays

Study Shows Sunscreen Doesn't Block All Types of UV Rays

Posted - Sep. 29, 2003 at 4:14 p.m.



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Kim Johnson ReportingSummer is behind us now, but today some more cloudy news about sunscreen and skin cancer. A new study is suggesting that sunscreen may not be effective at blocking certain types of ultra violet rays.

Dermatologists say they're not really surprised by the new findings since sunscreen only blocks out a narrow spectrum of the sun's rays.

Dr. Joseph Jensen, Dermatologist: “The UVB light, which causes most sunburn, it'll block that out. But other wave lengths, UVA, will penetrate the sunscreen and still cause damage to the skin."

New broad-spectrum sunscreens are on the market now and while they're quite good at blocking UVB light, but Jensen says they're still not terribly effective against UVA rays.

Dr. Joseph Jensen, Dermatologist: “UVA is a longer wavelength of light. It penetrates thru window glass. It's the same thing in tanning beds oftentimes. And it too causes damage to the skin. And it too increases the risk of skin cancer."

Jensen and other doctors say sunscreen is still essential, but they're concerned it has given people a false sense of security about the sun.

Dr. Joseph Jensen, Dermatologist: "People feel they're safe. They stay out for long periods of time. They don't burn, and they think they're not causing any damage."

But the rise in skin cancer cases suggests otherwise. Doctors are seeing an alarming increase in people suffering with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. And Utahns, who are largely fair-skinned and living in a sunny altitude climate are especially at risk.

Dr. Jensen says 80 percent of a person's sun exposure will come before age 21, so it's critical that kids and teens lather up, cover up, and avoid the sun as much as possible.

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