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February 1995

Sunscreens for Cancer Prevention

Author Affiliations

Beth Israel Hospital Harvard Medical School 330 Brookline Ave Boston, MA 02215

Arch Dermatol. 1995;131(2):220-221. doi:10.1001/archderm.1995.01690140106020

FOR ALL AGES, sunscreens protect against sunburn. For many middle-aged and older Americans who are exposed only intermittently to the sun, sunscreen use is unlikely to reduce the risk of skin cancer substantially.

Americans of all ages are constantly exhorted to avoid exposure to a wide range of carcinogens and other health hazards. Among the most visible of these public health campaigns is the effort to persuade us to avoid sun exposure, or, if we dare venture outside into the summer daylight, to use sun protection, especially sunscreens. As part of this campaign, in 1994 a joint effort of government and medical organizations and sunscreen manufacturers led to widespread daily publication of the ''Ultraviolet (UV) Index,'' a daily prediction of UV flux that provides guidelines for sun avoidance and the use of sun protection.1

There are three strategies to reduce sun exposure: staying out of the sun, wearing protective

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