Are FDA-Approved Sunscreen Components Effective in Preventing Solar UV-Induced Skin Cancer?

Ann M. Bode, Eunmiri Roh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Solar ultraviolet (SUV) exposure is a major risk factor in the etiology of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). People commonly use sunscreens to prevent SUV-induced skin damage and cancer. Nonetheless, the prevalence of cSCC continues to increase every year, suggesting that commercially available sunscreens might not be used appropriately or are not completely effective. In the current study, a solar simulated light (SSL)-induced cSCC mouse model was used to investigate the efficacy of eight commonly used FDA-approved sunscreen components against skin carcinogenesis. First, we tested FDA-approved sunscreen components for their ability to block UVA or UVB irradiation by using VITRO-SKIN (a model that mimics human skin properties), and then the efficacy of FDA-approved sunscreen components was investigated in an SSL-induced cSCC mouse model. Our results identified which FDA-approved sunscreen components or combinations are effective in preventing cSCC development. Not surprisingly, the results indicated that sunscreen combinations that block both UVA and UVB significantly suppressed the formation of cutaneous papillomas and cSCC development and decreased the activation of oncoproteins and the expression of COX-2, keratin 17, and EGFR in SSL-exposed SKH-1 (Crl:SKH1-Hrhr) hairless mouse skin. Notably, several sunscreen components that were individually purported to block both UVA and UVB were ineffective alone. At least one component had toxic effects that led to a high mortality rate in mice exposed to SSL. Our findings provide new insights into the development of the best sunscreen to prevent chronic SUV-induced cSCC development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number588
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 11 2020


  • cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
  • prevention
  • skin cancer
  • skin carcinogenesis
  • solar ultraviolet
  • sunscreen


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