Monday, July 11, 2011

You and the Sun

There has been quite a bit of chatter about sunscreen lately, mostly about how safe it is and if it is really providing the level of protection that you need. First of all, and I cannot emphasize this enough, protect yourself from the sun. Hats are awesome (you will rarely find me in the sun without one, I am kind of obsessed) - think of them as traveling sun umbrellas. As is the shade - it keeps you cool and keeps off the rays.

Now, why should you care about being exposed to the sun? It makes you nice and tan, and it feels good on your skin. Well, according to the CDC, about 65%–90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Yes, melanoma as in skin cancer. And what makes you more at risk for skin cancer you ask? Here is the list:

  • Lighter natural skin color.
  • Family history of skin cancer.
  • A personal history of skin cancer.
  • Exposure to the sun through work and play.
  • A history of sunburns early in life.
  • A history of indoor tanning.
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
  • Blue or green eyes.
  • Blond or red hair.
  • Certain types and a large number of moles.
If you have one or more of these risk factors, what I am going to share this week is all the more important. 

I learned about being careful in the sun early on, when as a tween I went out in the sun with friends and came back with a sunburn. I believe my mom grounded me for a week. Her wise words about sunburns are, "You forget about the burn, but your skin never forgets." And she was right - you do actually damage your DNA when you burn, and while I have heard from many "it will turn into a tan tomorrow" your skin's DNA is already screwed. 

So, what to make of all the latest studies about sunscreen? Stay tuned  for more about the sun and how to protect yourself as I sift through the findings and tell you what you really need to know....

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