Researchers at QUT have identified a superhero gene that works to prevent skin cancer.

But a world first human study found that the P53 gene is ineffective unless it’s shielded from UV rays by sunscreen.

Madeline Muir reports.


Just because you’re fully protected from the sun doesn’t mean you can’t develop skin cancer. But wearing suncreen protects the so-called superhero P53 gene without protection that gene too can mutate leaving it unable to fight cancer.

Dr Elke Hacker, QUT researcher: “And by using sunscreen we’ve shown that we can protect that P53 induction.”

Sunscreen provides 100 per cent protection from all three forms of skin cancer including the deadly malignant melanoma.

Dr Elke Hacker, QUT researcher: “So we have shown robustly that P53 across 57 caucasian people was always protected.”

The study, funded by Queensland’s Cancer Council involved 57 people.

They provided a series of skin biopsies to determine the molecular changes to the skin before and after UV exposure with and without suncreen.

Katie Clift, Qld Cancer Council: “We know that Queenslanders have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.”

Justin Ru-lon discovered he had a melanoma in March this year. He’s got this advice about using sunscreen.

Justin Rouillon, Skin Cancer Survivor: “What I didn’t realise until after I was diagnosed was you really need to be applying it everyday, especially in Queensland.”

And that’s timely with the state experiencing record spring temperatures.

This research highlights the importance of the proper application of sunscreen. It is just another reason to stay SunSmart as the weather warms up and summer gets on its way.

Madeline Muir, QUT News.