Great Health Delusions - Sunscreens, Sun Exposure, Cancer!

Aging is usually linked with a gradual loss of muscle strength and muscle mass, causing fragility, falls, functional decline, and a general feelings of weakness and loss of function for life's tasks and enjoyments. A recent study evaluated whether masters competition athletes who engage high levels of regular exercise also lose muscle mass and strength as they get older. The question for this study was whether the decline in muscle mass is inevitable with age, or was it a consequence of a sedentary less active lifestyle? Perhaps muscles waste away if they are not used in old age?

Many previous research studies had showed that most people older than 40 years of age, generally lose about 8 % or more of their muscle mass every 10 years. The rate of muscle loss increases to about 15% after the age 70 years. Losing muscle mass generally leads to a decline in strength, accidents, mobility and eventually loss of independence.

Are sunscreens Safe?
Are sunscreens Safe?. Source: Public Domain
Shade is the best Sunscreen
Shade is the best Sunscreen. Source:
Wearing hats is not new - Photo from the 1940s
Wearing hats is not new - Photo from the 1940s. Source:
Sun hats can be fashionable
Sun hats can be fashionable. Source:

Sunscreens Ineffective Especially When not Applied Often Enough

There is recent research claiming a direct link between UVA exposure and damage to the DNA of human melanocyte skin cells.

However, the poor inherent ability of melanocyte cells to repair damage, leading to high mutation rates, appears to be the major cause and these mutations can occur in cells in areas of the body not exposed to UVA.

Sunscreens Don't Work

Many Sunscreens that people are using: 

This means that people are deluded into a false sense of security that the sunscreens they are using will provide the claimed protection from UVA and UVB. 

Using the analogy of an umbrella - most umbrellas are leaky letting some light pass through, the plastics used releases harmful chemicals and people don't use them often enough. You are deluded into believing the umbrella offers total protection and so you go out into the sun for much longer periods of time and during the middle of the day, when you would otherwise not do so. The net effect of umbrella use may be negative, compared to:

The delusion is summarised as:

Why Sunscreens are Ineffective

Below is a summary of some of the issues:

Why is there so little definitive information about sunscreens, sun exposure and skin cancer?

There are four main reasons:

  1. The use of sunscreen tends to increase the amount of time people spend exposed to the sun, including poorly covered sites such as the trunk and legs.
  2. The first sunscreens developed did not provide significant or adequate protection for UVA and especially UVB protection, and so the research related to inferior products.
  3. There is a huge variety of sunscreens of varying effectiveness, and the application practices and frequency of use also varies. The sunscreen practices in the groups studied may not have been consistent enough, including the use of adequate amounts or body coverage, to provide the protection from melanoma.
  4. The damage that is believed to cause melanoma my have occurred in childhood and there may have not been enough time for the benefits of modern sunscreens to be demonstrated.

The published studies provide contrary evidence on the effectiveness of sunscreens in reducing the risk of melanoma. Studies in France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium and New York state showed and elevated risk of melanoma with sunscreen user. However, studies in Brazil, Spain and California report decreased risk of melanoma. In 2000 the IARC ( International Agency for Research on Cancer) assessed 15 studies on sunscreen and melanoma and found conflicting results with 8 studies finding significantly higher risks, but with 3 studies showing significantly lower risks and 4 studies reporting no effect. No conclusion could be made and the working group issued a warning that sunscreens should not be solely relied on for UV radiation protection.


You need to make up your own mind up about how reliant you can to be using a sunscreen. Read the labels and avoid ones with hazardous ingredients. Read the reports on which products are recommended. Don't solely rely on sunscreens. Most authorities now recommend clothing, hats and limited exposure times during the middle of the day.

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