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Teens and Melanoma

By: Carl Thornfeldt, MD, FAAD
Posted: April 29, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 3 of 8

Real story: UVA rays penetrate through clouds and windows, and are reflected off concrete, asphalt, snow and grass. These rays are present from sun up to sun down, year-round.

Teens believe: Wearing sunscreen every day will cause a vitamin D deficiency.

Real story: Vitamin D is imperative to prevent organ system degeneration. The human body only needs 20 minutes of noontime exposure to sunshine a day, on the head, neck and hands, to make about 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D. Oral vitamin D supplements have been found to be as effective as sun exposure, and the human body does not know the difference between the two.2 Consuming 2,000 IUs daily has been shown to decrease malignant melanoma mortality by 50%.3

It is likely that even with sunscreen application, vitamin D is still synthesized in the body, since the average person applies only 25% of recommended thickness of sunscreen to all sun-exposed areas on the body. So the true sun protective factor of SPF 30 would only amount to 3+. The AAD recommends applying two layers of sunscreen on all exposed areas, with the second layer applied 30 minutes after the first, at least 30 minutes before sun exposure.

Teens believe: You don’t need to use sunscreen if you are naturally tan.