Now that summer is upon us, we can all benefit from the information in this WSJ article (subscription may be required) regarding skin cancer and the sun. According to the article,
The sun's harmful rays can cause painful burns, premature aging and wrinkles, skin cancers and serious eye disease. Sunshine contributes to one million new cancers each year, affecting about one in every 70 people.
SPF Basics: SPF (sun protection factor) is an indicator of how much longer you can stay in the sun before burning,
If you would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, then 15 SPF sunscreen theoretically would allow you to stay outside for about 2.5 hours without turning red.... Once you've reached the time allotted by your SPF, adding more sunscreen won't buy you more time because you've already maxed out your skin for the day. SPF applies to blocking UVB rays but UVA ray exposure should also be limited because they penetrate more deeply. Tanning booths use UVA rays, and those who frequent them are two to three times more likely to get skin cancer.
Here's some tips on sunscreen in the article:
- Apply at least least an ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) each time
- Wear sunscreen even when you're only in the sun for brief periods at a time. It all adds up
- Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours
- Look for sunscreen that offers "broad spectrum" protection against both UVB and UVA rays
- Check the ingredients for Parsol 1789, aka avobenzone or butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, an effective UVA blocker. Sunscreens in other countries may contain mexoryl, supposedly an even better blocker, but it hasn't been approved in the U.S. yet
- A white T-shirt has an SPF of only 5, less when wet.
The looser the weave and lighter the color, the less protection.As a precaution, it's a good idea to put sunscreen on all parts of the body, even areas covered by clothing
- Wear sunglasses that block at least 98% of rays.
Sun damage while young increases risk for cataracts, age-related blindness and other eye diseases. People with light-colored eyes are at highest risk, as are people who work outside or are regularly exposed to sun glare, such as fishermen and ski instructors.
- Products with alpha-hydroxy acids, certain antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, antidepressants, cardiovascular drugs and diuretics may increase the risk of burning. Read the label and check with your doctor