Sunscreen provides 100 per cent protection against all three types of skin cancer and also safeguards a so-called superhero gene, a new study has found.
Queensland University of Technology researchers say their study will end the academic debate about the effectiveness of sunscreen in preventing skin cancers.
The study shows sunscreen provides 100 per cent protection against all three forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
It also shields the so-called superhero p53 gene - a gene that works to prevent cancer by repairing sun-damaged skin.
"As soon as our skin becomes sun damaged, the p53 gene goes to work repairing that damage and thereby preventing skin cancer occurring," lead researcher Dr Elke Hacker says.
"But over time if skin is burnt regularly the p53 gene mutates and can no longer do the job it was intended for - it no longer repairs sun damaged skin and without this protection skin cancers are far more likely to occur."
The study involved conducting a series of skin biopsies on 57 people before and after UV exposure, with and without sunscreen.
It found sun damaged skin was repaired by the so-called superhero p53 gene, but prolonged sun exposure or regular sunburn could cause that gene to mutate.
If the gene mutates it can no longer repair anymore and skin cancers can grow.
"After 24 hours where the sunscreen had been applied, there were no DNA changes to the skin and no impact on the p53 gene," Dr Hacker said.