Intended for healthcare professionals


Has the sun protection factor had its day?

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 06 May 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1274

Information on sunscreens should warn against excessive sun exposure

  1. Philippe Autie, deputy director (,
  2. Gianluca Severi, biostatistician,
  3. Jean-François Doré, research director,
  4. Mathieu Boniol, research fellow
  1. Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, European Institute of Oncology, Milan 20141, Italy
  2. Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Centre Léon Bérard, Lyons, France
  3. Department of Dermatology, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool L7 8XP

    EDITOR—We approve of Diffey's proposition to clarify the information about sunscreens by abandoning numerical labelling and instead using measures focusing more on protection.1 In most fair skinned populations, sunscreens are used during recreational sun exposure, and quantities applied to the skin are only about one quarter of those used to measure the sun protection factor,2 even when sunscreens are given away free.3 It is unlikely that the quantity of sunscreen applied would increase substantially. Therefore, information on characteristics of sunscreen products should reflect the conditions in which most people will use them. Hence, ideally, the sun protection factor (or any other variable related …

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