The Damaging Effects of the Sun
by Abi Hamrick and Dawn Weatherwax
Your skin is the largest organ of the body. However many people abuse this organ the most!
Did you know that skin cancer has been diagnosed in people as young as 20 years old? According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is on the rise. They estimate that there are at least as many cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year as all other cancers combined. That means that they expect more than 1 million diagnosed cases of skin cancer in 2006.
|"Many clothes do not block out UV rays, so even wearing T-shirts may not be enough. This is especially true if they are wet or thin."
When thinking about skin cancer there are many important things to know: damage to the skin develops at the first contact with the sun, every exposure to the sun is damaging, clothing does not always completely block out sun rays, and early detection is the key.
Because damage to skin begins at childhood, it is very important to keep children covered and protected from the sun. Children who are raised with healthy sun protection methods are far more likely to continue them into their adult hood than those who are not.
Every sun exposure, not just when it is hot and the sun is beating down, can cause skin damage. Although clouds keep much of the sun's heat from reaching the earth, they block as little as 20% of the harmful UV radiation. If you plan to be outdoors when it is overcast, cover up and apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. Skin damage due to the sun's UV rays can even occur on the coldest days of the winter. This is especially when there is snow because highly reflective surfaces, bouncing back as much as 90% of the sun's rays upwards and sideways.
Many clothes do not block out UV rays, so even wearing T-shirts may not be enough. This is especially true if they are wet or thin. There are many clothing lines that are coming out now that provide special UV protection. These are essential for long days in the sun.
Self-examination is the key to early detection. "If you spot it, you can stop it," according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. By detecting the cancer early, chances of survival are greatly increased. Also, you should see your doctor every year to have a professional skin examination.
Okay, now, I know you are wondering, "How can I protect myself?" So here are some tips for year round sun protection:
- Seek shade, especially when the sun's rays are the strongest (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.
- Always use a broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen/sun block with and SPF of 15 or higher.
- Buy water resistant sunscreen. This type of sunscreen does not block the pores so the body can cool off effectively.
- Apply 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body every two hours.
- Wear a hat that covers your face and the back of your neck and UV blocking clothing and sunglasses.
- Be aware that perspiration makes the skin more sensitive and also can wear off sunscreen.
- Drink lots of water to help prevent dehydration.
- Consume foods high in vitamins C, E, and A, selenium and cartenoids. These nutrients are known as antioxidants to help stop the inflammation that often leads to cancer and collagen break down that occurs when harmful UV rays penetrate the skin.