Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Oral Sunscreen may not be Magic Pill for Sun Worshipers

Loyola doctor warns supplement should only be used with traditional sunscreens

MAYWOOD, Ill. – While it might be nice to pop a pill to protect your skin from the sun, a Loyola University Health System dermatologist warns that oral sunscreens are not as effective as traditional lotions and creams.

“Oral sunscreens can be beneficial when they are used as an extra protective measure against damaging UV rays, but they should not be used in place of topical sunscreens,” said Rebecca Tung, MD, director, Division of Dermatology. “These products don’t necessarily prevent premature aging and skin cancer."

Oral sunscreens contain extracts of the cabbage plant. Dr. Tung reports that these products have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can clear up free radicals, which cause cellular damage in the body. Yet they are not 100 percent effective because they work based on the body’s ability to absorb them, which can vary from person to person.

“While oral sunscreens are appealing because they don’t leave a sticky white residue or need to be applied frequently, traditional lotions, creams and protective clothing remain the most effective way to block the sun,” Dr. Tung said.

More than 2 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually, making it the most common cancer in the U.S. The incidence of skin cancer, including the deadliest form – melanoma - has increased significantly over the last several decades.

Dr. Tung offers the following tips to prevent skin cancer:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it liberally.
  • Wear protective clothing outdoors, including a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, pants and sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Stay out of the midday sun (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
  • Use a higher SPF when at higher elevations.
  • Avoid sunbathing and tanning salons. UV rays from artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sunlamps, are just as dangerous as those from the sun.
    Set a good example for your children by always using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.