By: Dr. Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Should children over the age of six months use sunscreen year-round, even in sunless, cloudy weather? Of course not—but that idea may make $millions for the sunscreen manufacturers.
How convenient for the Skin Cancer Foundation to state, “for adequate protection against melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers and photo-aging, everyone over the age of six months should use sunscreen daily year-round, in any weather.” The Skin Cancer Foundation, of course, was founded by sunscreen manufacturers, which are forbidden by the FDA to claim that their products prevent melanoma. This statement by the FDA belies the claims of the Skin Cancer Foundation: “the available evidence fails to show that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer or premature skin aging. Thus, the anti-aging, skin cancer, and sun damage claims proposed by the comments [of the sunscreen industry] would be false or misleading due to lack of sufficient data in support of these claims.” Dr. Bernard Ackerman, a celebrated dermatologist, has further stated, “…the American Academy of Dermatology, the Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society sold their seals of recommendation to manufacturers of sunscreen, the price being substantial in terms of dollars but incalculable in regard to tarnish of honor.” He continued, “…sunscreen companies pay it [the Skin Cancer Foundation] many thousands of dollars annually in the hope of gaining many millions of dollars in return.”
Sunscreens block UVB and are (supposedly) intended to decrease sun damage to the skin—damage that is said to increase the risk of melanoma. Sunscreen use has increased considerably in the past few decades. Therefore, if sunlight exposure is the cause of melanoma, there should be an accompanying decrease in melanoma. Exactly the opposite has happened. According to Kline & Company, a research group, sales of sunscreens in 1972 were $33 million; in 2008, sales were $650 million. In addition, according to the Fredonia Market Research Group Company, the sale of sunscreens used in cosmetics in 2007 was $130 million. Therefore, the total sales of sunscreens as of 2007 were $780 million. Considering that a dollar’s value is only about 20% of what it was in 1972, the adjusted 2008 sunscreen expenditures are approximately $156 million, or about 4.7 times the 1972 figure. In other words, sunscreen use has increased by about 4.7 times. Population has also grown from 210 million in 1972 to 305 million in 2008—a 50% increase. Adjusting for population growth, it can be concluded that per-capita sunscreen use has at least tripled in the time frame being considered—the figure may actually be much higher. It is counterintuitive then, to state that sunscreen use prevents melanoma.
Consider the following: Melanoma incidence, according to the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF) has increased steadily and exponentially since 1935. Sunscreen use, as just explained, has also increased. Therefore, the data on increasing sunscreen use does not indicate that sunlight exposure increases the risk of melanoma; rather, it indicates that sunscreen use may contribute to the increase in melanoma. It has been shown that an SPF 15 sunscreen will decrease sun-stimulated vitamin D production by 99.5%, and it has been suggested that by blocking only UVB light (which stimulates the production of vitamin D in skin) while leaving UVA unblocked, sunscreens ironically may lead to UVA damage of DNA, leading to melanoma.  Increasing melanoma rates, coupled with increasing use of sunscreens, lends credence to that hypothesis. Vitamin D also provides photoprotection (protection against sun damage) by facilitating DNA repair. We gain nothing by eliminating vitamin D production through sunscreen use.
So why should the Skin Cancer Foundation make such a ludicrous statement? The answer is this: follow the money.
 The Skin Cancer Foundation’s “Guide to Sunscreen” http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/the-skin-c…
 Proposed Rules, Federal Register # 165 2007;72: 49070.
 A Bernard Ackerman, The sun and the “epidemic” of Melanoma: Myth on Myth! 2008
 Kline & Company’s Cosmetics & Toiletries USA Annual Service (1972 and 2008 editions).
 Fredonia market research group report, 2009.
Melanoma International Foundation, 2007 Facts about melanoma. Sources: : National Cancer Institute 2007 SEER Database, American Cancer Society’s 2007 Facts and Figures, The Skin Cancer Foundation, The American Academy of Dermatology.
 Matsuoka LY, Ide L, Wortsman J, MacLaughlin JA, Holick MF. Sunscreens suppress cutaneous vitamin D3 synthesis. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 1987; 64:1165-68.
 Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED. Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk? Am J Public Health 1992;82(4):614-5.
 Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED. Rising trends in melanoma. An hypothesis concerning sunscreen effectiveness. Ann Epidemiol 1993 Jan;3(1):103-10.
 Mason R, et al. Photoprotection by 1_,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and analogs: Further studies on mechanisms and implications for UV-damage. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 121 (2010) 164–168.