A new study published in the American College of Physicians’ Annals of Internal Medicine (released June 3, 2013) is the first research in humans to show conclusively that sunscreen can help prevent photoaging – premature aging caused by the sun. Although there has been significant indirect evidence suggesting that sunscreen has anti-aging benefits, this study is the first clinical human trial to show it directly.
Researchers compared skin aging in 900 men and women from Australia over a four-year period from 1992 to 1996. They found that daily sunscreen use significantly slows skin aging, even in middle-aged men and women. Study participants who used sunscreen daily were less likely to have wrinkles and dark spots after 4.5 years than participants who did not regularly use sunscreen.
Daily use of a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher can help reduce aging of the skin caused by sun damage. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun cause more than 90 percent of the visible signs of aging, which include wrinkles, rough patches, sagging, and skin discoloration.
The Skin Cancer Foundation's Position
“While there is an abundance of indirect evidence suggesting that sunscreen has anti-aging benefits, this is the first clinical human trial to show it. This study provides evidence that daily sunscreen use significantly slows skin aging, even in middle-aged men and women. Daily application of broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher is an important part of the complete sun protection regimen that The Skin Cancer Foundation has always advocated, which also includes seeking shade, covering up with protective clothing including wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Over the past 34 years, The Skin Cancer Foundation has made major strides in educating the public on the importance of sun protection. Still, each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. Our hope is that the knowledge that sunscreen will prevent wrinkles will encourage more people to protect themselves from the sun, which will reduce the incidence of skin cancer.”
Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD
Senior Vice President, The Skin Cancer Foundation