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Parents should not reply on sunscreen

TUBINGEN, GERMANY. Moles on the skin (melanocytic nevi) can, in a small number of cases, eventually develop into melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. The importance of moles lies in the identification of those with potential for malignant change, for example, enlargement, altered pigmentation, asymmetry, irregularity of the surface or edge, inflammation, bleeding, ulceration, itching or nodules. Evidence suggests that individuals with a large number of moles have an above average risk of melanoma.

Researchers from the University of Tubingen gathered data from 1,812 German children aged 2 to 7 years. They measured the number of moles each child had, and interviewed the parents about the child's sun exposure and use of sunscreen. Three-quarters of the parents said they almost always put sunscreen on their children when playing in the sun. A similar percentage said their children usually wore t-shirts over their bathing suits when at the beach or outdoor pool, and about 17 per cent said their children wore shorts in the sun. Those who often wore t-shirts and shorts at the beach or outdoor pool had significantly fewer moles than children who typically wore only bathing suits. However, no clear relationship was found between sunscreen use and the number of moles on the children.

The researchers conclude that randomized trials are needed to clarify the relationship between moles, sunscreen and protective clothing. They add that parents should be advised to protect their children primarily through sun avoidance and protective clothing. Although sunscreens should continue to be applied to exposed areas like the hands and face, parents should also be advised not to rely solely on sunscreens for protection.
Bauer, J et al. Effect of sunscreen and clothing on the number of melanocytic nevi in 1,812 German children attending day care. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 161, April 2005, pp. 620-627

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