When I was a child, my Mom had a skin cancer scare. It was a spot on her back that the dermatologist found among the thousands of freckles she had. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing but from that point on, my Mom went crazy protecting me and my brothers from the sun. In a way, I’m kind of glad as the situation made our entire family aware about skin cancer. And since childhood, I have developed good habits when I’m outside. Habits I hope to pass on to my own children (I must be doing something right as my children as usually the palest ones at the pool!). Research has shown that it only takes a few bad burns, usually early in life, to cause damage. In honor of Melanoma Monday, I hope you will take a few minutes to read up on skin cancer. Skin cancer is scary just by the mere fact that it is the most common cancer. At the same time, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.
Here are some recommendations to help you and your family protect your largest organ.
- Wear sunscreen every day. Even when it’s a cloudy day, you are still getting sun exposure.
- Remember sun exposure affects your entire body. Don’t forget to protect your ears, nose, back of neck, hands and feet.
- Apply liberally. Use 1 ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover the body and apply every 2 hours at a minimum.
- Avoid direct sunlight between 10 am – 2 pm. If you have to be outside, stay in the shade, wear a hat and sunscreen.
- Start young. Teach your children good habits by applying sunscreen before they play outside. Sunscreen should not be applied on infants younger than 6 months so it’s best to keep them out of the sun altogether.
To learn more and find a free skin cancer screening near you, check out the American Academy of Dermatology.
It’s that time again, a new year when we all feel we get a fresh start, a do over, if you will. We make New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, save money, or get organized (I’m guilty of all the above) and usually we barely make it out of January before our commitment fizzles out and we’re back where we started.
This year I am making goals for 2013 instead of resolutions. And for each goal, I’ve broken it down into what is involved in achieving those goals. I have also decided to evaluate my goals on a regular basis to ensure I’m staying on track. Something new I’m going to try this year is to incorporate a reward system so I have an incentive to stick to the program. I’ll let you know how it works out.
I think it’s safe to say that for most people, New Year’s resolutions are intended to better oneself. We see the flaws we have and we want to make an improvement – exercise more, be happier, spend more quality time with our family. While we are in the process of evaluating our lives and seeing where positive change is needed, I have a resolution I wanted to throw out there that I know everyone should add to their own list. One of your 2013 Resolutions should be to wear sunscreen every day. Whew, that was easy. You thought I was going to say you need to work out 6 days a week or never eat processed foods ever again. But seriously, how hard is it to apply a moisturizer or foundation with an SPF 30 or higher every day? It is a habit you should absolutely take up. There are two ways our skin ages, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic aging, also known as chronological aging, is the natural aging process associated with getting older. Extrinsic aging is caused by external factors with the sun being a major contributor. It is estimated that extrinsic aging accounts for up to 90% of the aging of our skin. Besides the obvious reason of protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, it is estimated that the majority of skin aging and wrinkles, is caused by the sun. Therefore, if you protect your skin from the sun, you are saving your skin from looking older than it really is.
I hear people talk about the benefits of getting sun exposure because the body uses the sunlight to create Vitamin D in the body. Please do not use this as a reason to leave your skin unprotected. According to The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), they do not recommend getting Vitamin D from sun exposure, whether natural from the sun or artificial from tanning beds because UV radiation from those sources can lead to the development of skin cancer. Their position is that an adequate amount of Vitamin D should be obtained from Vitamin D rich foods or through Vitamin D supplements only.
Whether you want to prevent the acceleration of wrinkles and age spots or avoid skin cancer, simply wearing sunscreen every day is always a smart choice and I hope one that you will make each and every day.