Scientists Develop Skin Cancer Patch
Filed Under: Health & Science, Lifestyle | Posted: 07/09/2009 at 11:59PM
Comments | Region: United States Virgin Islands
Scientists have developed a ground-breaking patch that changes colour in the sun and may help to prevent skin cancer. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland have developed the patch, which uses an "intelligent ink" that changes colour when exposed to dangerous levels of sunlight.
The wristband measures the wearer’s exposure to the sun when chemical compounds inside the patch that react to UV light. It then changes colour from yellow to pink to indicate the user is approaching their maximum exposure time before they get sunburnt – one of the main factors that cause skin cancer.
The low-cost technology means the wristband will only cost around 20-30 pence per indicator, and can be worn on the body, clothing, or even stuck onto a bottle of suncream, just as long as it stays in the sun for the same amount of time as the user does.
Professor Andrew Mills from the University of Strathclyde said he hopes the patch will help encourage people to have a more responsible attitude toward sunburn. "The trouble with sunburn is that you don’t see it until four to eight hours after you have been burned. We hope this device will make a difference to people’s behaviour, and help people who are especially vulnerable to the sun, such as children and those who work outside."
Professor Mills added: "Skin cancer is a huge problem in the United Kingdom. Over 70,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, and over 2,000 people die. It’s a well documented problem, but the numbers just keep growing.
"We don’t get enough sun in this country, so when it does come out we tend to pursue it aggressively. And our association of a suntan with health and wealth is still very strong. This attitude is entrenched in British society, but our indicators aim to help this.
"The price is a very important part of the product. Intelligent UV ink is quite an inexpensive feature, so the wristbands themselves remain low-cost. There are other devices out there, but they’re just too expensive. People aren’t willing to splash out pounds every day to protect themselves from the sun."
The wristbands will be available for all skin types, which can react differently to UV light. The invention may be available to sun-worshipers in the UK as soon as this November.
UV Exposure Levels Require More Testing
Dr. Julie Sharp, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Anything that highlights the damage caused by UV exposure and encourages people to protect themselves could be useful, but it would need thorough testing to ensure it reflects sun exposure in real-life situations.
"Some people are more prone to skin cancer and people with fair skin need to take more care in the sun. The best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to ensure that you don’t burn. We can all enjoy the sun safely by spending time in the shade in the middle of the day, wearing a hat and sunglasses and using factor 15 sunscreen."