Let’s say you are fifty years old, male or female, light skin, dark skin, light hair, dark hair, no hair, and you love to be in the sun. It’s just so warm, cozy and inviting. “Come out to play!” says Mr. Sun. And you are dressed just right for the occasion: shorts, a tank top, no shoes and it does not matter if you are on the beach, in the mountains, on a lake, in the desert, walking down the street in the middle of the city or mowing the lawn in your backyard. How many of you have just been described? Well, the survey says most of you. Unfortunately, most of you also ignore both the high risk factors and the prevention. There are easy tips to employ to stay safe from the harm of overexposure to sunlight.
“Oh, no,” you say, “I’m not fifty. I’m just sixteen. I have my whole life ahead of me.” Maybe. Youth, unfortunately, is no guarantee that you are immune to the results of sending Mr. Sun the RSVP: I’m there with bells on and not much else.
The harsh truth now known in the light of day, courtesy of the sun, is that the highest incident of cancer in America, and probably worldwide, is skin cancer. And who or what is the highest rated culprit responsible for the condition? If you said the sun — a good answer, by the way – you would only earn half the point. The sun will always be there whether you are or not. You have the choice to make and it must be made wisely.
Tips for Remaining Safe from Harmful Sunlight
While younger people may not be at immediate risk for contracting skin cancer, poor habits set in youth will have their effect if they are maintained into adulthood beyond middle age. Just as a daily consumption of hamburgers and sodas will ultimately cause poor health, excessive and prolonged exposure to the sun creates a high risk to contract skin cancer. But the sad truth is that the other factors listed above put us at risk. There is no stay-in-sun-but-get-out-of-jail-free card and this is certainly not a game. There are, however, some easy tips that, if followed, will still allow a healthful and friendly association with the sun. We cannot recommend complete avoidance. Vitamin D, essential to good health, has, fortunately, an easy source and it is likely the best source: Mr. Sun.
The first tip: spend some limited time in the sun. As noted above, it actually has a major benefit. In this regard, however, that limited time is short if the concern is a necessary dosage of vitamin D. A sufficient daily dose is an excruciating ten minutes, and it does not require a bathing suit. Normal street clothes, an open face and short sleeves will suffice for this brief exposure. But if your intent is a longer duration in the sun, the following tips are essential for proper protection while keeping Mr. Sun as a friend.
Apply sunscreen to all areas of the skin at risk of longer-term exposure. The rating should be SPF 15 or more.
Wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants and shoes. Wear sunglasses, even if you follow the last tip.
Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face and neck. Yes, even if you have a full head of hair, it does not offer sufficient protection from the sun. Better than no hair or a buzz cut, but, to be safe, wear the hat.
Follow these tips and your sunlight exposure will have all the benefits while limiting the risks.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.
Photo Credit: lululemon athletica (CC BY 2.0)
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