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Protection from Skin Cancer - Common Misconceptions

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Debunking five erroneous ideas about protection from skin cancer
by Emily Clark

Consider these two people and their skin:  Kayla spends most of her summer by the beach. The climite she lives in is mild. Kayla is athletic. She enjoy the physical activites of swimming, biking and outdoor games. Kayla is aware of dangers of the sun. So she chooses to get her 'golden glow' from a tanning salon, while being sure to apply sunscreen every day before heading out.

Paul lives in a cooler, more northern climate. Here the summers are very humid, although most of the year the temperature is mild and rarely below freezing in the severest winter months. The beach has never been an attraction to him. Truthfully, he spends most of his time doing indoor activities or at his office job. Paul doesn't worry about using sunscreen. He did have one sunburn which he remembers occured when he was but a kid.

Do either of these two people seem a little bit like you? Both Kayla and Paul are at risk to develop skin cancer!

You have heard the warnings about the dangers of sun exposure. And you know the importance of wearing sunscreen and hats. But there is a good chance that you still have some misconceptions about protecting yourself against skin cancer. Let's clear up some of the confusion:
    MISCONCEPTION ONE:  Tanning Beds are Safer than the Sun.

    20 minutes of exposure in a tanning bed is the rough equivalent of
    four hours of being in the sun. While sun beds use UV-A (Ultraviolet light-A) rather than UV-B (Ultraviolet light-B) rays, a cancer reference book, 'The Skin Cancer Answer' says that "UV-A penetrates more deeply into the skin than UV-B, can cause skin cancer, and may
    suppress the immune system." Clearly getting a tan either under the sun or at a tanning salon raises the risk of skin cancer.

    MISCONCEPTION TWO:  Wearing Sunscreen, Only at the Beach, is Enough Protection

    85 percent of UV rays make it through to your skin on cloudy days.NO matter what the weather like during the day, you are equally at risk in the car, walking the dog or when your children are out playing - even when you're not at the beach. Of course, at the beach, you are normally less attired. Bring with you "covering up clothes" to put on to minimize your exposure. Even when wearing sunscreen, oversized longsleeve cotton shirt and sweat pants, for example, can pbe put on after you 've been in the sun for awhile. Remember, sunscreen wears off when you sweat or go into the water and should always be applied every two hours or after getting wet. Bottomline, sunscreen should be applied year round before you venture out into the day's activites.
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    MISCONCEPTION THREE:  Taking Care Of Your Skin Now, Will Keep You Safe From Skin Cancer

    Sadly, skin cancer can take 20 or more years to develop. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that most people receive about 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood is estimated to double the risk of melanoma later in life. Protecting yourself now is a must do thing, and will reduce the risk for the future, but today's application of sunscreen does not eliminate the damage already done. That is why it is so important to make sure your children practice good sun protection habits.

    MISCONCEPTION FOUR:  Having a Tan Means You're More Protected

    Dark skinned individuals are less likely to develop cancer, but tanned skin is actually damaged skin. And repeated tanning injures the skin and ups the risk of skin cancer. Note that darker pigmentation does not prevent people from getting sunburned. Everyone needs to protect themselves from the sun to lower the risks of melanoma.

    MISCONCEPTION FIVE  You Can't get Burned on Overcast Days

    Just because the sun is hidden by some cloud does not mean that the harmful effects of the sun's rays are gone. While some UV rays are reflected by clouds, most get through to reach your skin. And during the winter months, guess What? Those UV rays are still pouring down on you. Sunscreen any exposed skin, all year round.
Plan on protecting your family this year. Limit exposure to the sun - especially for infants. Examine your skin for early signs of damage. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and apply it at least 30 minutes before exposure and every two hours after that. Instruct your children to form good sun safety habits. And be sure you and they are covered up when outdoors.

About the author:  Emily Clark is editor at Lifestyle Health News and Medical Health News where you can find the up-to-date advice and information on many medical, health and lifestyle topics. Circulated by Article Emporium

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