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Sunscreen Misuse Widespread

As much of the country gets seared by summer heat and sun that won't quit, the number of cases of skin cancer dermatologists are seeing won't quit either. Although sunscreens are widely used today, a new European study says they are often misused, reports CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin.

"There will be over a million new cases of skin cancer in the U.S. this year and one in five Americans will get it in their lifetime," says dermatologist Dr. Darrell Rigel of NYU Medical Center.

The study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says people have the wrong attitude toward sunscreen. It found that people who use stronger sunscreens spend more time outside because they don't feel the effects of sunburn as quickly. Thus, their risk of skin cancer increases.

According to the study, those who use the stronger sunscreen spend 25 percent more time in the sun, most of it sunbathing.

"The more time you spend in the sunÂ…there are some rays that are getting through to your skin and the SPF, no matter how high, isn't blocking. So therefore, their overall exposure is higher," says Karen Emmons of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The other significant finding when it comes to sunscreen is that more is better. Doctors say you need an entire ounce to cover the body. Researchers found that people in the study were using three to four times less sunscreen that they should for adequate protection. It's especially important for children whose skin is most sensitive to sunburn.

Experts recommend that in addition to using sunscreen, people should avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade, especially during the midday hours when the sun is the most intense. They also recommend wearing hats and other protective clothing.

According to the study, "the protective effect of sunscreen use against skin cancer, particularly melanoma, has not been demonstrated in the general population, but there are compelling data that show a strong relationship between duration of recreational sun exposure and skin cancer."

The recommended amount of sunscreen is one to three ounces - a generous amount - and it should be reapplied every two to three hours, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

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