To many people, sunshine equates to happiness, including fun times outdoors and walks on the beach. Despite warnings about excessive exposure to the sun, many people cannot get enough of the sun’s potentially harmful rays.
While taking in the sun is beneficial, it poses many dangers as well. Separating fact from fiction is essential for sun worshippers who plan to spend ample time outdoors.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Knowing the facts about sun exposure is essential to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Unfortunately, certain widely-spread myths can make it difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction.
• Myth: I need to soak up the sun to get enough vitamin D.
It’s true that the sun helps the body produce vitamin D, but you do not need to spend hours in the sun to fulfill your body’s need for vitamin D. Five to 10 minutes of sun exposure is adequate, and you can include vitamin D in your diet by consuming foods and beverages such as oily fish, fortified milk and orange juice. Dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, also contain the vitamin D your body needs.
• Myth: I have dark skin, so I don’t need to wear sunscreen.
The idea that more melanin the skin contains the more protected it will be from sun exposure is not necessarily a myth. Dark-skinned people typically do not burn as quickly as those with lighter skin. But many dermatologists agree that darker skin is not adequate protection against cancer and even premature wrinkling. According to Mona Gohara, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, a person with medium-brown skin has a natural SPF of around 13. However, it is adviseable to use SPF 30 for basic sun protection.
• Myth: I’m wearing enough sunscreen.
Many people underestimate how much sunscreen is necessary to protect the skin. It is recommended to use at least 1 ounce of sunscreen on exposed areas of the skin for maximum protection. Read the label of the product. You may need to apply the sunscreen every two hours or more depending on your activity level and how much sunscreen is lost to sweating or swimming. You even need sunscreen on cloudy days or if you sit by a window while you work. Also, wait 30 minutes between application and heading out into the sun. Chemical sunscreens take that long to work.
• Myth: The skin on the legs and arms is not as delicate as the face.
It’s safe to get a little tan in these areas and if you are one of those who is too worried about the sunlight affecting your delicate skin then try these best self tanners by TanVogue.com to get the sun-kissed look. Skin is skin, and no one area is less prone to sun damage and cancer risk than another. In fact, dermatologists say melanoma is most likely to form on the head and trunk of men and arms and legs of women. African-Americans are at a higher risk for lentiginous melanoma, which develops on the palms and the soles of feet.
• Myth: Sunscreens cause cancer.
Back in 2001, a small study on mice suggested oxybenzone, an ingredient that is commonly used in sunscreens, produced free radicals that may contribute to melanoma. However, the FDA has approved the use of oxybenzone and there is no definitive link between human use of the ingredient and melanoma. If you are worried about chemicals, select a mineral-based sunscreen instead.
Despite what’s known about sun exposure and skin cancer, many myths about exposure to the sun still prevail. Regardless of what you hear, it’s best to wear sunscreen every day and cover up to protect your skin.