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People of the Sun
Summer time tans can turn deadly!

April 17th, 2005

By Stal Herz

Each year over 1 million Americans are diagnosed with Skin Cancer, most notably melanoma, which itself takes out over 50,000 people. Skin cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer in the United States, but the sad thing is that it is also the most preventable.

With winter now fading away, many Americans will be running outside with sleeveless shirts and their faces turned up into the sun in hopes of getting a perfect tan they can sport for the upcoming week. The only problem there is that the tan you are getting right now can be doing extreme damage later on.

Youth is indeed fleeting.

When the sun hits your skin, your body naturally starts to produce Vitamin D, which in moderation is healthy, but as with everything else, too much can throw your body into a state of imbalance.

When going into extreme sunlight during peek hours, you should limit your time to 10-15 minutes of direct exposure to the sun everyday. Any longer than that will bring about an onset of skin cancer, which can set in early in life, but not expose itself until a much later date in the form of skin blotches, permanent sores, chaffing and cancer.

It is recommended that if you are going to be exposed to direct sunlight, wearing a sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection Factor) of 15 or higher is essential. This will give you the protection you need.

However, for those 50,000 people a year who die from Melanoma, it is already too late.

So what can you do?

Be sure that you really know the surface of your skin so that when a lesion or rash develops you can quickly notice any irregularities. Catching skin disorders before they flourish can prevent long-term damage. Often times, the space of a week can make all the difference. Nobody should know your body better than you do.

Aging of the skin is caused by an overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, so make sure that you don’t skimp when you buy sun block. Without UV protection, you are essentially putting body lotion on your skin.

For all of those mid westerners who travel to sunny destinations and oil up in hopes of returning home with a golden bronze once that RED has gone away, just know that even though the color has changed on the surface of your skin, the damage has been done. Excessive episodes such as this can create irreversible damage later on down the road.

UV levels are usually at their lowest before 10 in the morning and after 4 in the evening. If you go outside during periods between those times, it is best advised that you wear a hat or protect your skin with sun block. You need to limit your exposure if you are out during these times, so make sure that you step into a shady spot every 15 minutes or so.

If you buy your sunglasses from a corner store for 5 dollars, know that there is probably no ultraviolet protection, so just because your eyes are being guarded against the brightness, they are not protected against the UV rays, which can still get to your skin.

If you are a blond haired blue-eyed individual, the likelihood is that your exposure to the sun is going to be a more intense and dangerous experience.

As you begin to age, the cells that contain melanocytes (this is what create pigment) start to decrease, therefore exposing spots or damage that has existed for some time but has not been able to be seen. So, just because your skin looks beautiful and smooth doesn’t mean it is. It just means that your pigment is covering up the damage that already exists.

Wearing a wide brimmed hat and sleeves covering your exposed body parts might save you years on your life. While you may be sacrificing style for health care, you know you’ll appreciate it when you turn 50 without skin cancer or severe damage. Who knows, you might even spark a re-birth of Victorian fashion.

Sport a parasol, see what happens and cover up before you run into the sun.

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