Mr. Sun

I had the pleasure of attending a football game yesterday.  It was a gorgeous day.  85 degrees.  Not a cloud in the sky.  And at 1:30 pm, I was joined by 65,000 other screaming fans.

It was evident walking around that many of the fans either had not thought to put on sunscreen or had not reapplied as I saw many raw pink/red faces at the game’s end.  I asked several of my friends around me if they had put on sunscreen and almost all of them said, no and refused an offer of sunscreen to put on.

I’ll be the first to admit I love the sun.  Love. It.  I feel best when I’m outside of a sunshiney day and I truly believe the sun makes me happier and gives me energy.  I know there are several biological reasons for this, but I won’t go into them now other than to say sun=good in my book.

BUT, I’m the first person to admit that I’m crazy freaked out about skin cancer not only for myself, but for those I love (especially with our diminishing ozone layer… scary!).  I also admit that that I have had a few burns before from bad planning and in one case, expired sunscreen.  So I will say it now and say it again.  I will make a t-shirt that says it.  I will shout it out loud.  I will remind my friends… It only takes one burn to give you skin cancer. One.  Uno.  The idea that you have to burn to tan and when you are tan you are therefore pretty/healthy is preposterous.  Don’t get me started on tanning beds (and if you are my friend and you go to tanning beds for a non-medical reason, don’t tell me or I will march down and drag your butt out of there).

I’m not sure what has caused this misinformation or lack of caring about our skin to think that you will seriously be ok if you stand in the blazing hot sun for 4 hours without a hat or any other form of sun protection.  Girls, I understand you want to tan, and guys… is it just a macho thing that you refuse to put a cream on your face?

I don’t mean to lecture, but honestly, no matter how much I say it, I feel like no one takes it seriously.  They should. You should.  Why? (Some facts from skincancer.org)

  • The most common form of cancer in the United States is skin cancer.
  • Think having darker skin means you can’t get skin cancer?  Think again.  You not only can get skin cancer, but you are less likely to detect it early, significantly decreasing your chances for survival.
  • Almost 90% of non-melanoma cancers are caused by exposure to the sun.
  • Most melanoma cancers are caused by UV radiation.
  • The most common form of cancer for young adults is Melanoma.

So, part of my healthy living heavily involves sunscreen when I’m going to be outside.  Cloudy or sunny weather (although I do tend to skip it in the rain).  This is not some random cancer that you can’t prevent… most cases are due to our sun exposure and we can protect ourselves.  I hope that if you don’t wear sunscreen now, that you will strongly consider it.

If you still aren’t going to wear sunscreen (or in addition to sunscreen) try these tips to keep yourself protected:

  • Wear protective clothing:  long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid the hottest parts of the day
  • Drink green tea (Source)
  • Eat foods rich in lycopene (Source, yay tomatoes!)
  • Eat food rich in cartenoids (Source, Source, yay leafy green veggies, carrots, and sweet potatoes!)

If you want to learn more about skin cancer and how to protect yourself, please check out skincancer.org.

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