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A new study on animals that produce their own sunscreen could lead to the development of more effective UV protection in humans, researchers say.

Sunscreen in a pill gets closer to reality. Here's how


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, June 22, 2015, 9:33 AM - A new study on animals that produce their own sunscreen could lead to the development of more effective UV protection in humans, researchers say.

The study, conducted by researchers at Oregon State University (OSU), has discovered why some fish, amphibian, reptile and bird species can spend their entire lives outside without experiencing significant sun damage.

The answer lies in gadusol, a compound that naturally occurs in some species, including from rainbow trout, American alligators, green sea turtles and farmyard chickens.

According to researchers, gadusol works with other "biologic activities" to protect against ultraviolet light.

“Humans and mammals don’t have the ability to make this compound, but we’ve found that many other animal species do,” Taifo Mahmud, a professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy and lead author on the study, said in a statement.

“The ability to make gadusol, which was first discovered in fish eggs, clearly has some evolutionary value to be found in so many species. We know it provides UV-B protection, it makes a pretty good sunscreen. But there may also be roles: it plays as an antioxidant, in stress response, embryonic development and other functions.” 

In their research, the OSU team was able to naturally produce gadusol using yeast.

This could eventually lead to mass production of the compound, which could one day be used in sunscreen products for humans.

According to Mahmud ingesting gadusol may be able to provide humans with an effective, "systemic sunscreen" that can be used instead of traditional creams.

While edible sunscreens are already on the market, researchers say more study needs to be done on their effectiveness.

SUNSCREEN SAFETY TIPS

Now that warm weather is here, experts say it's important to take precautions against sun exposure.


UV INDEX: Be sure to check the UV Report in your area here


According to the Canadian Cancer Society, skin cancer, one of the most preventable forms of the disease, is also one of the fastest-rising in the country.

Finding the right sunscreen is an important first step in preventing skin cancer.

SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.  Health care advisers recommend sunscreens that provide 'broad spectrum protection.'

This means the product protects against UVB rays as well as UVA rays, which can cause cancer and wrinkles.

Here are some more sunscreen safety tips, courtesy of Health Canada:

  • Look for products that won't wash off in the water. Scan the label for claims the product stays on in water (key terms are 'water resistant' or 'very water resistant'). 
  • Read the directions. 
  • Apply liberally. Use the recommended amount of sunscreen, as per the product label. 
  • Apply it early. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before heading outside and reapplied 20 minutes after going outside. Re-apply at least every 2 hours after that. If you have been sweating or swimming, touch up more frequently.
  • Protect babies:  Do not apply sunscreen on babies less than 6 months of age. Instead, keep them out of the sun.
  • Spot test. Patch test new sunscreen products on a small area of skin for several days prior to applying liberally on the skin. This can reduce the instance of a large-scale allergic reaction.

Sources: OSU | Health Canada

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