Cancer is definitely one of the biggest health crises of our generation. Even after decades of attempting to understand and to treat the disease, the survival rates are still only at about seventeen percent, only four percent higher than it was a few decades ago. So of course, scientists are getting antsy about coming up with a solution.
But one of the biggest issues regarding cancer prevention and treatment is that some forms of the disease are actually quite simple to avoid. Some forms of cancer, like that of the colon, of the lungs and respiratory system, and even of the skin are easy to avoid with the proper precautions.
Not smoking and living in areas with cleaner air will greatly decrease the chances of developing cancer of the respiratory system, going for the occasional colonoscopy can make sure that you won’t die from preventable colon cancer, and according to a recent study from Ohio, regular SPF30 sunscreen prevents the onset of melanoma.
At least that’s what preliminary results show, as the study was presented with a number of limitations. Still, the team from the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute is quite certain in the accuracy of their results.
By using a mouse model in order to study the relationship between applying appropriate sunscreen and developing melanoma, the team concluded that, indeed, compared to mice exposed to ultraviolet-B light (UVB) and to a chemical known as 4-hydroxytamoxifen or 4OHT without having SPF30 sunscreen applied, the sunscreen mice had an eighty percent higher chance of surviving melanoma-free for up to five weeks after exposure.
According to the study’s lead investigator, PhD. Christin Burd,
Sunscreens are known to prevent skin from burning when exposed to UV sunlight, which is a major risk factor for melanoma. However, it has not been possible to test whether sunscreens prevent melanoma, because these are generally manufactured as cosmetics and tested in human volunteers or synthetic skin models.
We have developed a mouse model that allows us to test the ability of a sunscreen to not only prevent burns but also to prevent melanoma. This is a remarkable accomplishment. We hope that this model will lead to breakthroughs in melanoma prevention.
Still, as mentioned before, the study does have its limitations. First of all, the team was only able to test exposure to a single portion of the whole ultraviolet spectrum present in sunlight – UVB light. This matter cannot be fixed until the team gets a better solar simulator able to reproduce more wavelengths of sunlight.
A second limitation would be that they are lacking funding for the research. Even though it is for the sake of finding a useful prevention tool, most sunscreen companies are still cosmetics companies. And with the grief they’ve gotten in the past decades from animal protection groups, they are now pretty much opposed to any type of animal testing. So it might take a while to get any sort of funding.
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