Sunscreen: Unused and Unsafe [Video]


Sunscreen, despite scientific and parental warnings, is going unused by teenagers and adults alike, amidst reports that skin cancer is on the rise in men and women of all ages. Warnings have come in all forms from scientists, reports, and even popular videos online. Tanning may begin as a popular trend for some, only to become a lifestyle that many teens take up to emulate popular celebrities, leading to possible skin problems later. Even those that protect their skin have to worry about new information that their particular brand of sunscreen may be harming life around them as it washes off.

Teenagers have grown especially apathetic towards the use of the protective product, according to recent reports. Overall usage by teens has decreased by 12 percent between 2001 and 2011, claims the new report led by Corey Basch, an associate professor in the department of public health at William Paterson University. The practice of tanning outside without the use of sunscreen is just as unhealthy as using tanning booths, she adds.

Dr. Jeanine Daly, A dermatologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System, expressed surprise at the usage decline, saying that the warnings of skin cancer and melanoma should be having the opposite effect. These numbers, she continues, show that the message is just not getting through to teenagers. “The bottom line is that skin cancer is largely preventable,” Daly said.

Skin cancer numbers are rising due to unsafe tanning practices and unused sunscreen. From 2001 to 2009, skin cancer, which is already considered to be the most prevalent form of cancer, instances jumped in men and women by 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. Having too much UV exposure is also considered the top cause of skin cancer, leading to Dr. Daly and others asking everyone to wear brands that use zinc or titanium dioxide to cover both main kinds of UV rays, allowing for the greatest degree of protection.

Some patrons are refusing to use protection with those exact ingredients because of reports of safety concerns for marine life. Two microscopic ingredients of some sunscreens, titanium oxide and zinc oxide, can combine with UV rays to create a toxic mixture as it washes off and is eaten by phytoplankton, a new study reports. Those organisms are then eaten up by whales, fish, and shrimp that continue to spread the toxins through the food chain. Co-author of the report and researcher at University of the Balearic Islands in Spain, David Sanchez-Quiles, highlights this as a current and timely issue thanks to coastal tourism numbers being on the rise.

The practice of leaving sunscreen unused is being battled through a viral video showing the unsafe effects of the sun on unprotected skin. Thomas Leveritt, a British-American photographer and maker of this video, shows the reactions of random people having their unseen skin blemishes appear under a UV camera. The video shows that glass and sunscreen both absorb UV radiation, turning them black inside the same lens and protecting skin and eyes from the harmful rays. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner reacted to the video by saying it was a “party trick, but in a good way,” citing that showing people their damaged skin is an effective way to open their eyes on the topic.

By Myles Gann

Tech Times
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