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HHS HealthBeat (July 22, 2011)

The broader spectrum

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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Nicholas Garlow with HHS HealthBeat.

With the sun, what you can’t see can hurt you. Ultraviolet rays – too high up the spectrum for the human eye to see – can cause sunburns, premature skin aging and even skin cancer. 

We need to be concerned about two types of UV rays – UVA and UVB. Most UV radiation is UVA, although it has less energy.  Far less UVB reaches us, but it can do greater skin damage. Sunscreens can protect the skin, so it makes sense to use sunscreens that work against UVA and UVB, which are called broad spectrum, and which are not too light to be generally protective.

At the Food and Drug Administration, dermatologist Jill Lindstrom:

``We encourage consumers to use sunscreens that are labeled with a broad spectrum SPF value of at least 15.’’ (6 seconds)

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Nicholas Garlow.

Last revised: July 25, 2011