Fun in the sun and the importance of sunscreen

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With the rise of over 30-degree days on our radars, the Canadian Skincare Foundation estimates that more than 80,000 cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year.

Additionally, the Canadian Cancer Society estimates that approximately 11,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, of which 1,300 Canadians might die.

Melanoma is the most severe type of skin cancer, but not all skin cancers are melanomas. Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers around the world. It is also one of the most avoidable and easily treatable if you focus on preventative care and act on early symptoms.

Aside from staying away from direct sunlight, sunscreen is our armor which blocks ultraviolet radiation.
Studies published by the National Library of Medicine show that sing sunscreen reduces both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. The Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend its use. Ultraviolet radiation exposure is also directly harmful and is consistently linked with an 80 to –90 per cent increase in the development of skin cancers.

As a skincare whiz and science student, I took it upon myself to look at what the best sunscreens on the market can provide. Upon my quest for my personal ideal sun protectant and after reading a Forbes article by Ana Faguy, I found that U.S. sunscreens are regulated as pharmaceuticals, whereas in other countries, they are regulated as cosmetics. The U.S. claims to regulate sun- screen ingredients more strictly than other countries do however as a result of its proclaimed use of extensive testing standards, the U.S. hasn’t approved a new sunscreen active ingredient in decades.

With such a substantial lag in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, we see physician groups, consumers and cancer advocates asking governments to permit Americans access to the same sunscreens that are relied upon in other parts of the world. According to Kelly Dobos, a cosmetic chemist from the University of Toledo, FDA approval for new sunscreen ingredients currently lags over two decades, with just 14 approved filters compared to over 30 in the European Union as reported by Sandra E. Garcia for the New York Times.

Canadians such as myself resort to diverse options abroad for a multitude of reasons blaming FDA delays, though I suggest broader solutions are needed locally regardless of existing sunscreen availability. After all, sunscreen is just the tip of the iceberg regarding a lack of proper healthcare infrastructure funding in domains such as research and regulations across Canada and the US.


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