Friday, May 19, 2006
Practicing Safe Sun
There is a lot of pressure around health choices these days – from ferreting out trans fats in my crackers to slapping on sunscreen and seeking shade. When I was a teenager, it was so much simpler. We crammed six of us into my rusty Volkswagen bug (no seatbelts to worry about), pumped in two dollars of gas and bounced down Ontario back country roads to the beach. Once there, we grabbed some burgers and fries, hit the sand and cranked up the transistor radio (ask your parents what that is).
My tanning approach was to rub my skin with my family’s secret recipe: iodine mixed with baby oil. The iodine provided a nice orange foundation colour while the baby oil acted as a pleasantly fragrant basting ingredient. On a good hot day, you could almost hear it sizzle, like chicken on a grill. The first day produced a lobster-like hue, which was referred to as ‘a good base’.
The problem is that we now know that sunlight contains ultraviolet rays (UV) that can harm your skin and eyes. Canadian sunlight is strong enough to cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. UV rays can get through clouds, fog, haze and even water. My generation has done a good job of poking holes in the ozone layer, so there is more UV entering exposed skin than ever before.
There are three main types of skin cancer. Most cases in Canada are basal or squamous cell carcinoma and tend to develop later in life on skin that has been repeatedly exposed to the sun. They progress slowly and rarely cause death because they usually don’t spread and can be surgically removed. Malignant melanomas are different. They can occur early in life and progress rapidly. They are less common, but are the type most likely to be fatal. In 2003, there were 656 cases treated in British Columbia - and 120 deaths.
It comes down to this: it’s healthier to keep the sun off your skin. For those who love to tan, there isn’t much good news. Sun damage builds up with each exposure to the sun – even if you don’t burn, sun damage is still taking place… and it’s cumulative. A tan doesn’t protect you from skin damage – it is itself a sign of damage and injury. People with dark skin are not automatically protected from sun damage, even if there is more natural protection. And finally, indoor tanning machines also cause skin damage.
My teenage self, racing along in my VW - with my Beatle haircut, Hawaiian shorts and raging hormones - had a wonderful time at the beach. My middle age self has already had four or five pieces of suspicious skin removed by physicians. I still love the blazing sunlight and still like the idea of being a (bald, chubby) bronze god. But now I practice safe-sun.
Well... I guess one can still learn from other peoples experiences... good and bad. And I'll use my sunscreen this summer...!
thanks for posting this.
Nothing at all will be healthy, and all what we do will threaten our life.
Do you want me to stay indoors all the time from now on, eat organic cereal for breakfast, and veggies the rest of the day, shut off my computer, go to the gym at night, oblige to seat belt laws to make the insurance company happy, think no evil ...?
Ok I know, I am not being fair. The ozone layer has truthfully diminished and the protection now is only a third of what it used to be when I was a teen.
Nevertheless, you can still get a tan and at the same time protect yourself from ruin.
I want you to live a good life my friend, by your own conscience, values, spirit and creativity. Make your own decisions and enjoy it all. I admire what I know of you greatly.
And if you are tanned, that's fine with me - I'm tanned too. (But I don't overdo it anymore, you know...burned red and just lying there soaking up UV.)
I also love cheese, whisky, dark strong coffee, rich red wine and a good Cuban cigar now and then.
Life's too long not to enjoy it.
Maybe you might like to add the importance of wearing a hat at all times in the sun.
I also slop on plenty of sun screen and wear a hat, bgut still finish up slightly tanned!!
Suns ray’s burn
Slip sunscreen on
Wear a hat
i know you are making good sense here, i'm a slow learner, although i don't get burned anymore. we use a lot of sunscreen
your a great column writer
Wearing a hat, watching for the mid-day sun, using sunscreen and watching for unusual skin/mole changes are simple things I do. I still enjoy the outdoors and love the sun.
Curaderm-BEC5 Cures with no scarring at all, it is a herbal cream, that has been used for over 80,000 patients and has impressive cosmetic results. Rely on this treatment and you will be able to observe a full regrowth of healthy skin tissues in place of old Ugly scaly looking skin.
Check out the link below to take you on a video illustrating how the cream works; with the inventor - Dr. Bill.
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