NASHVILLE, Tenn. - New information shows cases of melanoma are on the rise, but there are steps you can take to help prevent it.
When you're getting the family ready for the sun, a word of advice, “Avoid the SPFs over 50, avoid the spray products,” said Dr. David Andrews, who studies sunscreens for the Environmental Working Group.
It turns out sunscreens are not all made equal. The Environmental Working Group recently released its sunscreen analysis for 2015.
“Our database ranked 1700 [sunscreens] and only 20 percent made the cut for us,” Andrews said.
To make the cut, sunscreens must contain ingredients proven to be effective, and they must not contain ineffective or even harmful ingredients.
Last week the CDC released a report showing the number of people with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubled in the last 30 years.
“It’s likely a combination between tanning beds and regular sun exposure,” said Vanderbilt Asst. Professor of Medicine Dr. Doug Johnson.
Researchers and doctors alike said we put too much stock in sunscreen.
“We think sunscreen's important,” said Dr. Andrews. “We don't think people should rely on sunscreens.”
Instead he suggests keeping to the shade and wearing hats and other clothes that cover the skin.
“Sunscreen is not the only way to prevent melanoma,” agreed Dr. Johnson. “In fact it’s not even the most important.”
He said the most important thing is staying out of the sun and avoiding burns. But if you plan to hit the beach this summer, prepare to read your sunscreen's label first.
Dr. Andrews said to avoid sunscreens with the popular ingredient oxybenzone. You also want to stay away from retinol palmitate, known as vitamin A.
“When applied to the skin and then the skin is out in the sunlight it actually promotes tumor growth,” he said.
Instead you want to seek out sunscreens containing zinc oxide and avobenzone. The research shows they're more effective.
That way you can help prevent skin cancer before you could be dealing with a scary and possibly deadly problem.
“I see it a lot in the clinic,” said Dr. Johnson. “People tell me ‘if only we had caught it earlier’ so I think that hits home.”