The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    The limits of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer

    It’s estimated that regular use of sun protective factor (SPF) 15 during the first 18 years of life would reduce the lifetime incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers by 78%.

    It turns out that sunscreen protects against squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) but is marginal at best against basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) — two cancers that affect different layers in the skin.

    The study, published in 1999, reported that daily sunscreen (SPF 16) use over 4.5-years produced a 35% reduction in the incidence of SCCs but had no effect on the incidence of BCCs.

    The reason for the difference in this large group of more than 1600 people is not known.

    When the researchers continued to follow the participants after the study, they found that those who used sunscreen during the study tended to continue to use it. And they continued to benefit from a lasting effect on SCCs. Again, there was no clear-cut effect on preventing BCCs.

    Even if the protection against BCCs is marginal, protection against SCCc with sunscreen is real. It should be used properly along with other protective measures such as proper clothing, wearing hats, and just limiting direct exposure to the sun.

    1/24/07 20:56 JR

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