I’ll admit it. This is something that I need to work on. I rarely burn and I love the warm feeling of the sun on my skin coupled with the bronzed look that results from laying out for a couple of hours. If I do apply sunscreen, I typically apply somewhere around SPF 8. Applying more sunscreen is number one on my list of health-related changes that I’d like to make. Though I workout regularly, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol/drugs/cigarettes, eat a healthy diet, and engage in stress-relieving activities, a lot of that can be negated due to my love of the sun. While I do advocate getting outside more often (see my previous post), it’s essential to apply sunscreen to preserve the health and look of your skin.
According to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who apply sunscreen daily show about 24% less skin aging than those who do not. With repeated exposure to the sun, skin appears more dry, wrinkled, and leathery. In addition, sun exposure increases the likelihood of skin cancer, which has become the most common form of cancer, accounting for about half of all cancers. A person’s risk of melanoma (the most dangerous of skin cancers) doubles after 5 sunburns, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Around 9,000 people die of melanoma each year. However, if caught early, the odds of surviving melanoma are over 90%. Be sure to visit your physician or dermatologist each year and have them look over your skin for any abnormalities. If you have kids, be sure to cover them with plenty of sunscreen, since burns during our early childhood increase our risk of melanoma as adults. Do not worry about applying sunscreen higher than SPF 50, since there are insignificant differences in sun protection after that point. However, make sure that your sunscreen is “broad spectrum” and protects against both UVB and UVA radiation. Reapply at least every two hours.
And while sunlight has its many benefits, most of them can be enjoyed just as easily if you are wearing sunscreen!
For more advice on protecting your skin from sun damage, check out: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/skin_care/hic_protecting_yourself_from_sun_damage.aspx