'Morning After' Sunburn Cream Could Prevent Cancer

July 1, 2006 — -- Ever stayed out too long in the sun? Missed a spot with the sunscreen and got sunburn?

Soon, there may be something new you can do about it.

A "morning after" lotion called Dimericine, which is being developed by AGI Dermatics, has under gone a number of studies and is currently being considered for approval by the FDA. That approval is expected to come through in the next two years.

Dimericine is basically an enzyme cream that repairs the skin's damaged DNA. The body does this process naturally, but this cream would significantly speed it up.

So, does this mean someone can bake all day out in the sun and then use Dimericine the next day and not have to worry?

"No, you still need to use SPF," said Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist and author of "Forget the Facelift." "This does not protect against the most dangerous kind of melanoma and only protects to some extent against the others."

Melanoma causes only four percent of all skin cancer but is responsible for 75 percent of all deaths from skin cancer, according to the CDC. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are known to be caused by excessive sun exposure alone, so Dimericine could help prevent those cancers. But melanomas are caused by a number of factors, so Dimericine wouldn't be able to protect against it.

The "morning after" cream also won't protect people from wrinkles or lessen the pain or redness of the sunburn, Day said.

"This isn't a cure for sunburn," she said. "It simply helps you repair the damage of that sunburn. But you're still going to have to live through the unpleasantness of that burn."

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and 1.3 million Americans are diagnosed each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Day offered some tips on how to protect yourself against sun damage.

"You want to apply an SPF of 15 or higher," she said. "You want to reapply at least every two hours, more often if you are sweating and swimming. And you also want to physically protect. You have to be sun smart. That means you wear a hat with a big brim … and sunglasses."