With Summer upon us, we start thinking about sun protection. In reality, we should be thinking about it all year long. Sun exposure is the number one cause of skin cancer, which is the most common of all cancers. Whether it’s June or December, make sure to protect yourself.
What’s the difference between the types of ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB)? UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause wrinkling, age spots and sagging skin. UVB rays can burn the skin. Both can cause skin cancer.
I need to get my Vitamin D you say? Vitamin D is an important mineral; however research suggests that only 5-30 minutes of sun twice a week is enough to meet our daily requirements. Certain foods and, of course, supplements are ways get your Vitamin D without the sun exposure.
How Can I Protect Myself?
We tend to apply sunscreen for a day at the beach, but neglect this risk reduction measure on a daily basis. Follow what the American Cancer Society calls the “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!” rules.
• SLIP on protective gear. Wear light weight, long sleeved shirts and pants.
• SLOP on sunscreen. Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and every few hours after that. Don’t forget the lip balm.
• SLAP on a hat. Wide brimmed is best.
• WRAP on sunglasses. Be sure they have 100% protection against UVA rays.
Other sun safety tips:
• Avoid or limit direct sun exposure between 10am and 3pm when the sun’s damaging rays are strongest. Be sure to stay away from tanning beds as well.
• Instill skin protection habits in your kids while they are young. Eighty percent of lifetime skin damage happens before age 18.
• UVA rays will penetrate glass. Protect skin even when behind windows.
A word about sunscreen: be sure to use broad spectrum sunscreens, body lotions, and cosmetics to protect against UVA and UVB rays. The sun protection factor (SPF) should be at least 30. Some products on the market have much higher SPF ratings, but research has shown that the additional protection they offer is minimal.
Have a sun safe summer!
As we enter the summer months, we get to enjoy longer and (hopefully) sunnier days. This is when “sun-worshiping” re-emerges as a favorite pastime. Although tempting, we also know that unprotected or prolonged sun exposure can be dangerous. Turns out the bible also warns against sun worship: “You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt…” (Leviticus chapter 18, verse 3). One of the things ancient Egypt was known for was its worship of the sun god, Ra. Our exodus from Egypt was also an exodus from their pagan practices. So as a way of learning the lessons of our ancestors, steer clear of worshiping practices (like being in the sun from 10-3) and lay on the sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Then you’ll be more likely to make it to the promised land!
1. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/sun/sun-safety-tips
2. National Institutes of Health. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
3. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skin-cancer-facts