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.

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