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HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED IF USING SUNSCREEN AFFECTS YOUR VITAMIN D?

Click here to register your interest

BALANCING THE RISKS AND BENEFITS OF SUN EXPOSURE IS CHALLENGING

Most skin cancers are caused by exposing our skin to the sun.

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Every year about 16,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma, and around 1,400 people die. We spend nearly a billion dollars managing skin cancer each year.

Regular sunscreen application reduces the risk of skin cancer, but it may also interfere with our body’s ability to make vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for bone health and may have other benefits. It is called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because exposing our skin to the sun is our main source of vitamin D.

In theory, wearing sunscreen could cause vitamin D deficiency. Studies suggest that putting on low SPF sunscreen does not cause vitamin D deficiency, but we do not know if regularly applying SPF 50+ sunscreen affects vitamin D.

The Sun-D Trial is the first large trial to investigate the effect of applying SPF 50+ sunscreen on vitamin D.

WHAT DOES PARTICIPATION INVOLVE

Half of the participants in the Sun-D Trial (decided randomly) will be given sunscreen to apply every day for most of one year. The other half will continue with their usual sun protection behaviour.

All participants will have to:

  • Complete short online surveys each month for one year; AND
  • Provide a blood sample so we can measure vitamin D (just like having a regular blood test) 3 times in the year.

WHO CAN TAKE PART

We would like to hear from you if you:

  • Are aged between 18 and 70 years;
  • Live in one of the four eastern states of Australia (QLD, NSW, VIC & TAS);
  • Have fair or olive skin;
  • Are not taking more than 400 IU of vitamin D in supplements each day.

ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS OF TAKING PART

  • To say thank you for your time, we will give you a $50 e-voucher for each of the three blood samples returned to us – $150 in total if you return all three samples.
  • You will find out how your vitamin D levels change across a whole year. At the end of the Sun-D Trial we will tell you your vitamin D results.
  • Half of the Sun-D participants will receive free sunscreen for a year.

The greatest benefit is knowing that you are taking part in medical research that will help Australians to balance the advantages and disadvantages of sunscreen use.

ARE THERE ANY RISKS OF TAKING PART

There are minimal risks associated with taking part in this project. Sunscreen can sometimes cause a rash. This generally resolves when you stop using the sunscreen.

When you have blood taken there is a small risk of infection or bleeding. By having the blood taken by experienced collectors in commercial laboratories, we minimise this risk.

If you are in the sunscreen group, it is possible that your vitamin D level will be lower than it otherwise would be. It is unlikely that you will become severely deficient, and low vitamin D for one year is likely to cause minimal harm.

WHO IS CONDUCTING THE TRIAL

Professor Rachel Neale, from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is leading the study. There are scientists and doctors from around Australia helping with this research. Click here to see a full list of collaborators.