Summer Sun Safety
As you are packing up the cooler, heading to the beach and preparing for that backyard barbeque this weekend, don’t forget to pack the most important items- sunscreen and sunglasses. On Friday May 26, we recognize national “Don’t Fry Day”. The Friday before Memorial Day every year marks the time to remind people about the importance of protecting themselves from the dangers of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, a proven carcinogen.
According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, malignant melanoma is the fastest rising cancer in the United States. In fact, it is the most common form of cancer among young adults 25-29 years of age. While the rate of many other common cancers is falling (breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer), the rate of melanoma continues to rise significantly. The Journal of the American Medical Association projects that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime.
Many individuals may have memories of their teen years which include sitting out in the sun with a bottle of baby oil and a tin foil reflector. These memories date back to a time when we had little knowledge about the impact of the sun’s rays. However, like the connection between cigarettes and lung cancer, today we are armed with more knowledge and are empowered with the information we need to prevent this condition. Skin cancer is the most preventable form of cancer.
We can still enjoy summer months filled with all the seasonal activities we enjoy- swimming, hiking, biking and just being outside, however, there are some simple steps to protect our health before we do so. These include wearing a shirt to cover our skin, a wide-brimmed hat for our head and sunglasses to protect our eyes. Many individuals are unaware of the fact that our eyes can get sun burned and sun exposure increases our risk of developing later in life conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. For this reason, make sure you are purchasing sunglasses that block out 99-100 percent of the UV-A and UV-B rays.
Finally, every day, even in the winter months, it is a wise practice to wear sunscreen. However, during the summer months when you are in direct exposure to sunlight, wear a sunscreen that is SPF 30+ and water resistant. In recent years, there has been a rising concern about the safety of sun screen. However, there is no credible research to justify this alarm. Conclusive research from the American Academy of Dermatology has found that the common chemicals found in sunscreen, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, are safe. There is no research to prove that these ingredients cause hormonal problems, increase our risk of developing skin cancer or other health problems.
So as we enjoy our favorite summer pasttimes, make sure the only thing frying from heat this summer is the steak on the grill!