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Sunscreens, essential or harmful; Why should we care about our skin more than ever?

Every year with the arrival of the summer season, the debate about the use of sunscreen creams rises. It may not be believable, but still many people refuse to use this product by citing non-scientific reasons; Reasons such as: using sunscreen prevents the absorption of sufficient amounts of vitamin D, sunscreens increase the risk of cancer, and particles of this product can be found in brain cells even 10 years after use.

According to WiredGwyneth Paltrow, the American actress and the queen of questionable medical advice, in a video for Fashion Vogue magazine, criticizing the harmful ingredients used in sunscreens, says that she does not use sunscreen for her entire body and only applies a small amount of this product to the parts that are exposed to damage. It uses sunlight.

All research conducted to date confirms that the benefits of sunscreens far outweigh their potential harms; However, surveys show that only 55% of Australian adults, one of the most sun-exposed populations, believe that daily use of sunscreen is safe. This mistrust meant that last year, many people turned to online instructions to make their own completely ineffective versions at home.

Mistrust is not the only problem. Many people who use this product do not know how it works or do not use sunscreen properly if they have the necessary information. Science has trouble even saying how effective sunscreen is. This public relations problem must be solved to promote a product that plays a prominent role in fighting cancer; Because as the Earth warms, much of the world’s population will increasingly need to protect themselves from the sun.

Dangers of sun exposure

Skin cancer has long been one of the most common types of cancer in the world, and the number of people affected by it has been increasing over the past decades. Less lethal types of this type of cancer, such as basal cell and squamous cell cancers, make up the majority of these cases; But what we have seen increase in recent decades is a much rarer and more deadly case called “melanoma”. If the trend continues in the same way, it is expected that by 2040, the cases of melanoma and the number of deaths will increase by nearly 50 percent. Britain has recently reached the highest incidence of melanoma in the world.

The increase in melanoma cases can be partly attributed to better screening and an aging population; Because age is a general risk factor for cancer; But researchers also consider certain social behaviors, such as the acceptance of vacation packages to sunny countries, to be involved in this issue. They point the finger at the popularity of sunbathing and having glowing, tanned skin that is only nearly a century old. For people, a golden tan is the epitome of chic.

In addition to the aforementioned factors, a bigger concern is that our warming planet will most likely lead to an increase in skin cancer rates. Higher temperatures mean people will spend more time outdoors. Although the protective ozone layer has been improving dramatically since the phase-out of harmful aerosols in the 1980s, it is not expected to fully recover until 2040. The presence of more people in the open air will increase the incidence of melanoma. Much of the increase in melanoma cases is projected to occur in parts of the world with light-skinned populations; Regions such as: Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe.

Predictions related to the increase in melanoma cases mean that the adoption of protective behaviors against the sun, such as the use of sunscreens, will be of great importance in the coming years; But unfortunately, the way many people use this product is terrible.

Some people use almost half of the amount of sunscreen they need, and because of this, some parts of their skin remain unprotected; Others, instead of gently massaging this product on the skin, use a lot of pressure to spread it. This extra pressure reduces the sun protection factor (SPF) by about a fifth. Also, most people don’t know the true meaning of SPF and think that this factor indicates how long they can be exposed to direct sunlight; While SPF actually just means the amount of sunscreen protection of the skin against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

The SPF index is calculated as the ratio of the amount of radiation needed to burn skin with sunscreen compared to skin without protection against the sun. This ratio means that sunscreen with SPF 50 is able to protect your skin from UV rays 50 times more than when you did not use sunscreen.

Using sunscreen encourages people to spend longer periods of time in the sun. The studies conducted show the existence of a relationship between the use of sunscreen and sunburn; Because using this product gives people a false sense of security. According to the hypothesis presented in an article, the reason for the increase in the incidence of skin cancer can be attributed to people’s incorrect use of sunscreen.

The sun emits two different types of ultraviolet rays called “UVA” and “UVB” and the second type is more related to skin cancer. Therefore, sunscreens with at least SPF 30 that provide protection against both types of these rays and are called “broad spectrum” are the best possible options.

When the UV index (which measures the strength of the sun’s ultraviolet rays) is 3 or higher, each square centimeter of skin needs 2 milligrams of sunscreen. This amount is equivalent to approximately half a teaspoon for the face and neck together and one teaspoon for each part of the front, back, arms and legs, and it should be massaged on the skin at least 15 minutes before leaving the house for enough time to dry and It can sit on the skin. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or every hour if you swim or sweat a lot.

Why is sunscreen not popular?

However, many people in the world do not use sunscreen. A survey by a UK skin cancer charity found that around a third of respondents rarely or never used sunscreen. According to Rachel Neal, a cancer epidemiologist at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, the root of this problem is due to economic inequality in different countries and the relatively high cost of sunscreens.

Since this summer, the Netherlands has started distributing free sunscreen in schools, festivals, parks, sports facilities and public open spaces, and Florida has also started a trial run of this plan. The vice-president of the British Association for Primary Care Dermatology says that in an ideal world sunscreen would be provided free of charge to people.

Despite the results of research and the statements of experts, in recent years a movement has started against sunscreens and has tried to introduce this product as a harmful substance to people.

Sunscreens are usually divided into two categories: chemical and physical (mineral); Of course, some experts do not accept this division and believe that organic and inorganic (mineral) titles are a more suitable classification for sunscreen creams.

In the past few years, chemical or organic sunscreens have been criticized more than others because of their unpleasant and unfamiliar ingredients; Such as homosalate, octocrilin, octinoxite, octisalate. On the other hand, inorganic sunscreens, which are better described as inorganic, consist of only two main substances, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. There are many pseudo-scientific organizations that express concern about sunscreen ingredients just because of the unfamiliar and scary names.

Because of this, mineral sunscreens are usually considered “cleaner” options. This is despite the fact that there is not enough evidence to prove the harmfulness of any type of sunscreen. One of the common questions of users about sunscreens is the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens. The common answer given to this question is that chemical sunscreens absorb ultraviolet rays and physical sunscreens reflect this ray; But actually this answer is wrong and both of these products absorb ultraviolet rays.


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