Thursday, 31 October 2013

Clear and Present Dangers of Skin Cancer

Why you should Simply Zinc it with Sunscreen.
Photo Credit: Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation
The average consumer will likely be bored by raw statistics. However, this first post will deal with some essential numbers to illustrate why skin cancer is an important public health problem that affects most Canadians. Later information will focus Canadians and Americans on the clear and present risks from UVB-biased sunscreens and potentially harmful ingredients in personal care products.

Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancer equal to 50% of all cancers in N. America. Over the past 30 years, more patients had skin cancer than the combined total of all other cancers. There are no exact figures as recording of cases is incomplete. Up to 4 million Americans and 120,000 Canadians will develop a skin cancer this year. One in six Canadians and one in five Americans will develop a skin cancer within their lifetime. More alarming, is the rising rate for all skin cancer but particularly the rate for melanoma. There has been an 8X or 800% increase in melanoma in young females and a 4-fold or 400% increase in young males over the past 30 years. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people age 15-25.

Up to 90%of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and 60% of melanoma is potentially preventable. The Lewin Group report direct and indirect costs for skin cancer care in the USA at 5.5 billion and climbing. The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer Report (February 2010) estimates that we now spend more than $ 600 million annually. In Canada up to 1/4 million cases of skin cancer could cost over a $ billion by 2030.

The use of scarce health care dollars to treat a potentially preventable disease mandates a new direction. There is an effective hierarchy of skin cancer prevention. It starts with educating all people on simple sun safety behavior. Later postings will deal with this in detail. The final step in the hierarchy is the use of effective sunscreens. Australian doctors have shown that daily use of a sunscreen to exposed areas reduced the incidence of melanoma by about 50%. Their sunscreens were older formulations and new innovations with modern sunscreens bring greater promise to further reduce all types of skin cancer.

The potential of balanced sunscreens that give as much UVA protection as UVB is exciting, compared to the limitations and dangers of unbalanced UVB-biased sunscreens, with minimal UVA protection presently dominating the market in N. America. A few UV filters are able to achieve a balanced UVB to UVA protection approaching unity. More about this subject in my next post.

Denis K. Dudley, M.D.


  1. fascinating article!

  2. Very informative ... can't wait until the next blog!

  3. interesting...would love to hear your what you recommend in terms of best product for myself and my children. I find it challenging to try and determine what is accurate label info vs marketing. Help!

    1. A profound apology. I missed this query and I have been travelling in Europe on my research project- to develop a sunscreen that will mimic the protective effects of shade or black clothing. A simple approach is to use those few filters that do not enter the body- zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Tinosorb S&M, Mexoryl SX or LX. Some sunscreens contain one or more of these but avoid those that include any other outside this list. If you are in the USA, some of these are unavailable. The single best filter that is widely available ids zinc oxide in concentrations over 10% with or without titanium dioxide. New versions of zinc are transparent. Look for EWG preferred zinc oxide sunscreens. My favourite is Simply Zinc at This is the sunscreen I formulated to be safe, effective, and esthetic, particularly for children and pregnant women- therefore safe for everyone. Denis Dudley.

  4. Great article!