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No Parasol? Slather on the PARSOL

First the bad news: A recent study by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science found an increase in the rate of melanoma skin cancer in the United States. The culprit -- along with genes -- may be ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, which most sunscreens have not protected against. As a result, many people are staying out in the sun longer than they should, believing that if their sunscreen is protecting them from burns, it's also protecting them from melanoma.
   In addition to "wrinkling and premature skin-aging," says Dr. James J. Leyden, professor of dermatology, "there is increasing evidence that long-wave UVA may be a factor in the formation of melanoma skin cancers."
   But Leyden and other researchers at Penn's Department of Dermatology and other universities have found that the addition of PARSOL 1789 -- a patented UVA filter recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration -- to sun-screen products may protect the skin against the full spectrum of those damaging UVA rays. As a result, says Leyden: "The good news is that sunscreens are dramatically improving with respect to the levels of protection they offer."
   A number of new products are appearing on the market that contain PARSOL 1789. And while Leyden and his colleagues caution against relying too heavily on any sunscreen, "consumers need to know that they are better off wearing sunscreens while out in the sun than not."

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Copyright 1998 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 5/12/98