NHS sunscreen advice is 'insufficient', says doctor

Experts warned recently that too many Brits are ignoring the advice of the medical community when it comes to sun safety but now a top doctor has suggested that even NHS advice doesn't go far enough to protect us.

NHS sunscreen advice
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Dr Ike Iheanacho, editor of Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), claims that advice on sunscreen given by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is "insufficient".

NICE advise that sun-bathers should use a sunscreen with a minimum factor of 15 SPF and to reapply every two hours. But Dr Iheanacho warned that most sun-worshippers do not use adequate quantities of sunscreen and therefore should opt for factor 30 at least.

An editorial in the DTB said: "Factor 15 offers all-day protection only if it is applied thickly, at a thickness of 2mg/cm2 used by manufacturers as the standard test for SPF.

"In reality, people using sunscreens typically apply much less than this and get no more than half, at best, of the protection indicated by the labelled SPF."

Dr Iheanacho added that recommending factor 15 was a "blunder that overlooks the key evidence" and suggested the advice required "urgent review and correction".

In response to the DTB piece, Professor Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health excellence at NICE, said: "We felt it was important, in producing this guidance, to maintain a balance - recognising on the one hand the very real dangers of skin cancer, but also remembering on the other hand that we should not extrapolate from research carried out in much hotter, sunnier climates than our own."

Nevertheless, since Cancer Research UK say the rate of malignant melanoma in those aged between15 and 34 has tripled in the last 30 years, it seems wise to err on the side of caution.

What do you think? Do you go by the NICE advice and choose factor 15? Leave a comment below...