Happy "Don't Fry Day"

Skin cancer prevention and sunscreen labeling

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) As summer approaches and you start to enjoy more outdoor activities, you’ll want to protect yourself and your kids from the sun’s damaging rays. Do you know which sunscreen to select?

To raise awareness about the importance of safe sun practices, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has named the Friday before Memorial Day, May 24, 2013, as “Don’t Fry Day.”

The group wants to teach you what new sunscreen labeling means.

You’ll want to select a sunscreen that clearly states it offers “broad spectrum protection” and has an SPF of 30 or higher.

"Wear a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher."

This year, some two million individuals will be told they have skin cancer, a number that’s been growing for the last 30 years.

The key message here is that anyone of any age and any race is vulnerable to skin cancer.

To help consumers understand what they’re buying, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has recently updated requirements for sunscreen labeling:

  • Broad spectrum means the sunscreen protects from both types of ultraviolet light – ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). These are the rays that can cause skin cancers and premature aging.
  • Only products that offer broad spectrum protection and that have SPF values of 15 or higher can claim they lower skin cancer risks.
  • Products that are not broad spectrum or that have SPF of 2 to 14 must have a warning label stating that they have not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

Susan Chon, MD, associate professor of dermatology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, told dailyRx News, “Look for sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection, SPF of at least 30, and preferably with zinc oxide and or titanium dioxide. Most importantly, apply early and repeat often every 1.5 hours.”

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention also offers these sunscreen tips:

  • Slather on the sunscreen and use it liberally on all areas of the body.
  • Re-apply after swimming or if you’re breaking a sweat.
  • Sunscreens that are truly water resistant will say that they remain effective for 40 or 80 minutes during swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Non water-resistant sunscreens will encourage you to use a water-resistant product if swimming or engaging in activities that will make you glisten.

In announcing the awareness campaign, board-certified dermatologist Sandra Read, MD, co-chair of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, said, “Despite the fact that skin cancer is largely preventable, it remains by far the most common type of cancer in the United States. The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention is encouraging everyone to understand the FDA’s new sunscreen label regulations in order to protect themselves from the sun on ‘Don’t Fry Day’ and every day.”

To learn more about how to protect yourself as you enjoy summer fun, visit the links below.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 23, 2013
Last Updated:
August 12, 2013