While people have used sunscreen to guard their skin against the negative aspects of the sun for many years, the actual effects of sunscreen have remained unknown. In October 2013, scientists performing the world's first investigation into the molecular impact of sunscreen published their results in Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research. In the study, they evaluated the skin changes of 60 patients who underwent ultraviolet exposure with and without SPF30+ sunscreen.
The researchers came to several conclusions. First, the sunscreen provided complete protection against the three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Moreover, they found that it stopped damage to p53, an important anti-cancer gene that fixes skin cells damaged by the sun. This greater understanding of how sunscreen works and the importance of p53 is expected to lead to the creation of better sunscreens that can repair and protect cells.