The rate of skin cancer has doubled over the last 30 years, according to new federal data.
Melanoma, specifically—which is the deadliest kind of skin cancer—is on the rise, and according to the latest research, the yearly cost of treating it is estimated to triple to a total of $1.6 billion in the year 2030.
One way to prevent skin cancer is to cover up, and sunscreen is typically a go-to to protect skin in the summer heat. However, recent data has suggested that while sunscreens add protection, they aren’t necessarily up to snuff and often brands make coverage claims they can’t really deliver. There’s also the fact that many Americans still don’t wear it daily (and many still use indoor tanning beds).
A recent report from the Environmental Working Group showed that many sunscreens offer poor coverage or have ingredients that the organization views as worrisome. Some brands market their SPF 70 or SPF 100+ even though they don’t really have much more protection than SPF 50.
New, better sunscreen ingredients could help. Recently, legislation was passed to make the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to more quickly respond to pending applications for new ingredients to add to sunscreens. Many of these ingredients have already been available in sunscreens abroad for years. The law is supposed to make the agency act more promptly, and hopefully result in sunscreens with better protection for Americans.
The FDA also said years ago that it would crack down on sunscreen regulation, by putting a cap on SPF at a max of SPF 50, establish standards for testing the effectiveness, and enforce better labeling.
So what’s the best way to stay protected? Keep wearing sunscreen (data suggests Americans could do a better job), but abide by other measures too. Health experts recommend covering exposed skin with clothing, avoiding time in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, and remembering to reapply sunscreen—a teaspoon per body part—at least every two hours.