Sara spends much of her summer near the beach. She lives in a
mild climate and is very athletic. She loves to swim, bike and
play games outdoors. Sara knows the dangers of the sun and so she
opts for tanning salons to get her ‘golden glow’ while being sure
to apply sunscreen every day before heading out.
Joseph lives in a cooler, northern climate. The summers can be
very humid, but most of the year is mild or even below freezing
during the harshest winter months. The beach has never been much
of a draw for him and he spends most of his time doing indoor
activities or at his job. Joseph doesn’t worry about sunscreen
and only had one sunburn that he can remember and that was when
he was a child.
Which of these examples do you most associate yourself with? Did
you know that Sara and Joseph are both at risk of developing skin
cancer? We have all heard the warnings about the dangers of sun
exposure. We know all about the importance of wearing sunscreen
and hats. But are YOU protected from skin cancer? Consider these
myths and facts:
MYTH ONE: Tanning Beds are Safer than the Sun
20 minutes of exposure in a tanning bed is roughly equivalent to
four hours in the sun. Although sun beds use UVA rather than UVB
rays, ‘The Skin Cancer Answer’ states that “UV-A penetrates more
deeply into the skin than UV-B, can cause skin cancer, and may
suppress the immune system.”
MYTH TWO: Wearing Sunscreen at the Beach is Protection
85 percent of UV rays can even make it through on cloudy days.
That means you are equally at risk in the car, walking the dog or
letting your children out to play at any time of year – even when
you’re not at the beach. Of course, you are usually less attired
at the beach and so covering up is recommended even when wearing
sunscreen. Sunscreen also wears off with sweat and water and
should always be applied every two hours or after getting wet.
MYTH THREE: Taking Care Of Your Skin Now Will Protect You
Sadly, skin cancer can take 20 or more years to develop. The Skin
Cancer Foundation states that most people receive about 80
percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18.
Just one blistering sunburn in childhood is estimated to double
the risk of melanoma later in life. Taking better care now will
reduce the risk, but not eliminate the damage already done.
MYTH FOUR: Having a Tan Means You’re More Protected
Dark skinned individuals are less likely to develop cancer, but
tanned skin is actually damaged skin. Repeated tanning injures
the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer.
MYTH FIVE: You Can’t get Burned on Overcast Days
Just because the sun is hidden by some cloud does not mean that
you don’t need protection from the harmful effects of the suns rays.
So how do you plan to protect your family this year? Some
suggestions are to limit exposure to the sun – especially for
infants. Examine your skin for early signs of damage. Use a
sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and apply it at least 30 minutes
before exposure and every two hours after that. Teach your
children good safety habits and be sure you and they are covered
up when outdoors. Have fun and be safe.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes
only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any
disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any
health care program.