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.
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:
We would like to hear from you if you:
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.
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.
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.