Jennifer spends much of her summer near the beach. She lives in a mellow climate and is very athletic. She loves to swim, bike and play games outdoors. Jennifer 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.
Michael lives in a cooler, northern climate. The summers can be very humid, but most of the year is clear 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. Michael 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 Jennifer and Michael 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? Contemplate 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 increased deeply into the skin than UV-B, can determine 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 dim 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 affected 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 Shelter You
Sadly, skin cancer can take 20 or deeper years to evolve. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that most people gather 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 preferable care now will dwindle the risk, but not eradicate the debasement already done.
MYTH FOUR: Having a Tan Means You're Better Protected
Dark skinned individuals are less likely to establish cancer, but tanned skin is actually damaged skin. Repeated tanning injures the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer.
So how do you plan to shelter 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 exceptional safety habits and be sure you and they are covered up when outdoors. Have fun and be safe.
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