Q&A with Dr Nava Dayan, Skin Science and Research Specialist

Q&A with Dr Nava Dayan, Skin Science and Research Specialist

We caught up with one of our speakers, Dr. Nava Dayan to find out how she plans to change perceptions and question the status quo during her speaker session on suncare at in-cosmetics 2015.

What are you speaking about at in-cosmetics 2015?

I will be speaking about the effectiveness of sunscreens in the prevention of skin cancer, assessing current methodologies and questioning our understanding of the value of these methodologies.

The initiation and progression of skin cancer is a complicated biochemical shift from normal cell cycle that results in from sustained imbalance. Current methodologies used to evaluate sunscreen’s efficacy in prevention of skin cancer focus on physical absorption of the sunscreens, generation of skin erythema and skin darkening. However the correlation between these end points and the ultimate purpose of sunscreens efficacy in skin cancer prevention is questionable. I will describe a proposition to evaluate biological endpoints to this analysis of sunscreens and review relevant published knowledge gathered about specific protein markers. My talk will also discuss the suggestion of a novel tier approach for functional proteomic analysis for sunscreens efficacy so the relevancy to cancer prevention may be more prominent.

Why is it important to question what we know as fact?

People tend to follow what is suggested as an acceptable industry protocol and run it as part of work routine sometimes without questioning its validity and relevancy to the ultimate goal. Freedom of thought and expression is not the commonality but the outstanding. I’m not in a position to advise industry professionals on what to follow, but am just asking that they question what they know. As scientists, we’re lacking information. This is why we do re-search; constantly searching and re-searching. We therefore want to look at data that is obtained in a methodical manner; analyze statistics and assess information scientifically.

I want scientists to better understand the effect of the whole sun spectrum on the skin, rather than assessing separated wavelengths. After all, when we are out in the sun we are not exposed to separated wavelengths. For example, there will be factors affecting why of two people with the similar level of sun exposure, only one of them will suffer from skin cancer. We need to look closer at the weight of lifestyle choices in order to discover what the healthy people have in their immunity that those that suffer from skin cancer don’t.

What has led you to question the effectiveness of sunscreens?

Research into the effectiveness of sunscreens is inconclusive, as is the correlation between sun exposure and skin cancer. More people than ever use sunscreen but are there less cases of skin cancer? I haven’t seen a scientifically savvy study demonstrating such correlation. Furthermore, some skin cancer appears in non-sun exposed regions such as between toes and on other non-visible areas while some people are more prone to skin cancer than others. Is this to do with continued sun exposure? Exposure to the sun has been proven to have a number of benefits including, DNA repair adaptation, psychological benefits, improved blood pressure and generation of Vitamin D, an immune protector. Through using sunscreens, are we actually hindering these benefits?

We should look at whether current testing of sunscreens makes sense. New drugs that come to market, need to be assessed and proven for their efficacy. What makes sunscreens different? We therefore need to determine what the end point of sunscreen efficacy really is. Is it to prevent cancer or just simply to reduce skin redness so one can spend more time in the sun with no protection against wavelengths that might be harmful but are not mitigated by sunscreens? It is used for prevention, not to cure and we should therefore look at whether sunscreens are doing their job as a preventative means.

Where do you see problems with current testing of sunscreens?

There is no current testing of the entire spectrum of wavelengths and their effect on the skin. Instead, each wavelength is tested separately, for example, measurements are taken of UVA rays or UVB rays; not even combined. In addition measurements are taken immediately following irradiation, yet we know that the process of the effect of sun on the skin at the cellular level can be very long and cumulative. The kind of exposure experienced in real life is not replicated in the current testing regime and this is the only way to test the real effects. In addition, we do not have enough knowledge to determine if erythema ultimately leads to cancer formation. Maybe it leads to boosted immunity when moderate and recurrent?

What’s the single most important point you want delegates attending your seminar to takeaway?

As a scientist, I would like to advise people not to view things as black and white and as dictated to them by “industry standards”. I’m a pharmacist so my views may be different to regulators and I want people to question what they take as fact, without true findings to support claims. If after my talk people question their knowledge and are encouraged to find out more – I will envision it as achieving my goal for the talk.

Dr Dayan is speaking at the The new science of suncare research: New dangers or benefits for the skin? workshop at in-cosmetics on 14 April 2015, 09:00 – 13:00 Workshop Room CC5.2

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