Vital Signs: Slap on some sunscreen

By Anna Kellaher
Columnist

As the temperature warms up and the sun comes out, it’s the perfect time to hang out in Alumni Grove or take a walk around the loop. But, before you break out your summer clothes and soak up the sun, take a minute to catch up on the basics of sun safety.

It takes as little as 15 minutes for ultraviolet rays from the sun to cause skin damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Sunscreen can help prevent skin damage and melanoma. (Flickr)

Your body responds to the rays with an inflammatory response –– short-term damage that we all know as sunburn, according to the American Skin Association.

In addition to short-term consequences, UV rays can cause lasting damage. They can alter the proteins that make up your collagen and elastin, causing increased wrinkling and sagging later in life. More importantly, UV rays contribute to the development of skin cancer, according to the American Skin Association.

Your best protection against sun damage is sunscreen. You should wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 whenever you are outside, even if it’s cold or cloudy. The higher the number SPF in your sunscreen, the more your skin is protected, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends that you should reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after going for a swim. Sunscreen does expire, so check your expiration dates!

Cover up as much as possible and bring a T-shirt to the beach. Hats with a brim protect your head, face and ears, and will be helpful to keep the sun out of your face. If you don’t like to wear hats, wear sunglasses to reduce your exposure to UV rays, which can damage your eyes as well, according to the CDC.

2 Comments on Vital Signs: Slap on some sunscreen

  1. I use Blessure Serum if I get sunburn or I will take a cold shower to take away some of the pain. A good sun screen is key.

  2. The best method of avoiding sun damage is to use our intelligence and cover up at the first sign of redness. Avoid sunscreens. Sun exposure is vital to human health. Eighteen major cancers are reduced by regular, non-burning sun exposure, and one of those is melanoma. 75% of melanomas occur on areas of the body that seldom or never experience sun exposure.
    Research shows that for every death caused by diseases that are associated with sun exposure, there are about 328 deaths caused by diseases that are associated with sun deprivation. In the U.S, sun exposure has decreased by 90% since 1935. During that time the risk of melanoma has increased by 3,000%! Isn’t it interesting that each year the use of sunscreen increases, and each year the risk of contracting melanoma increases? It is not sun exposure that causes health problems; it is sun deprivation. And, it is leading to 336,000 deaths yearly in the U.S. There has also been an 8,300% increase in vitamin D deficiency in children since 2000, which is likely due to insufficient time playing outdoors and/or sunscreen use. Full-body sun exposure can produce up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D. So you see, all of this “protection” may be fatal. In addition, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released information that 73% of sunscreens don’t work and some may be counterproductive. Here are more facts:
    •A 20-year Swedish study showed that women who are sun-seekers have half the risk of death as sun avoiders.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who are sun seekers have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as sun avoiders.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Twenty minutes of full-body sun exposure at noon can produce as much as 20,000 IU of vitamin D.
    •Sun exposure reduces heart disease risk.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood.
    •Sun exposure increases brain-derived neurotropic factor, essential for the nervous system.
    For more information: sunlightinstitute.org

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