Sunscreen’s SPF raises questions

Friday, June 27th 2008, 4:44 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Bright summer sunshine is a reminder to protect your skin.

Now you can find SPF 85 at most places sunscreen is sold. The number is high, and some people question if it truly protects better than the average SPF 30.

Jerry Burnstein loves to be under the Oklahoma sun and he always has.

"As a kid growing up; in the pool a lot or at the lake playing soccer; I was a soccer rat," Burnstein said.

After years of not carefully protecting himself, Burnstein got a sore on the right side of his nose. It turned out to be skin cancer.

"Just hearing the word ‘cancer' is like being punched in the stomach; so, it's really eye opening," Burnstein said.

Dermatologists say, sun damage on the skin starts during childhood, and continues for the rest of your life. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and everyone is at risk under the sun; especially those with fair skin.

"Those who are red-haired, blue-eyed, freckled, very pale, those who can never tan, but always burn," Dr. Pamela Allen with the OU Department of Dermatology said.

At the grocery store, you'll find every type of blocker there is; lotions and sprays that range in SPF from eight to a new 85.

"SPF of 30 screens out about 97 percent of UVB rays, the burning rays," Allen said. "So, once you get past [SPF] 30 it's very minimal in its protection."

If you've been in the water, even if your blocker is "waterproof", dermatologists say to put it on again. It is especially important during the mid day hours to reapply.

Now that Burnstein is cancer free he reapplies often.

"If I can help one person prevent, if I can prevent, or help one person from getting skin cancer, I will feel like I've done my job," Burnstein said.

Dermatologists say most people don't take it seriously enough.