.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, May 19, 2006

Practicing Safe Sun

This is my newspaper column for next week. Comments always welcome.

The sun has returned and summer is just around the corner. This column will make you think twice about getting a tan this year. Those of you who worship the sun and can’t wait to darken up on all sides should stop reading now, especially if you’re a teenager. (Research shows that Canadian teens love to tan and many don’t care much about the health warnings.)

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.

As a red/strawbery blonde with green eyes, and Kabuki white skin, I have received some wicked burns in my lifetime. I even had sun poisoning once from a day at Disney World in FL when I was 18 yrs old. THAT incident did it for me as far as being careless in the sun. It was AWFUL, and the dangers of developing skin cancer after having sun poisoning triples, or something like that. I spend plenty of time outside with BabyGirl, but I wear 40 SPF sunscreen at all times, and so does she. She hates it now... but she'll thank me later.
You tell them youngsters Gary! You old wise man (hehehe)
Thank you for leaving a comment to my post! I'm eager to learn more from my coinhabitants of our mother earth, as from our mother earth herself! someone told me once to learn from other peoples mistakes... because I don't have time to make them all myself... Unless one believ in reincarnation...!!

Well... I guess one can still learn from other peoples experiences... good and bad. And I'll use my sunscreen this summer...!
a well written article, Gary. I love the sun too but sunbathing as such never appeals - all that grease and sweat! always wear a hat too, of course, protects the eyes as well as your exposed head!
I lost a good friend to melanoma, originating from childhood sun exposure. It was a long, slow, and painful death - she was 39 and had 3 young kids. I have sunscreen everywhere in the house, and no one gets outside without it.

thanks for posting this.
Gary, what can we do? Soon we can't do anything anymore.
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.
Can't you?
Sorry to be such a bummer Zee.

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.
Umm -I can relate to being burnt as youngster and having a tan!! There is evidence that not enough sunlight is as bad as too much, so I guess your article can only be general and warn of the dangers as you have.

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

best wishes
dant it. why did i read this. i like to be tan.

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
Lindsay, yes we need sunlight too - but a few short minutes a day (or a supplement) takes care of the Vitamin D needs. You Aussies certainly get your share!

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.
If any of you bloggers in this site ever become a victim of non melanoma skin cancer; such as Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) or Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). A bottle of Curaderm-BEC5 is on stand by to cure your skin cancer before it becomes the deadly malignant melanoma.

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.

Thanks for the tip Velanie - don't need it today, but might someday have a reason to check out the options.
Yikes, I remember doing the iodine and baby oil thing a couple of summers! It did make for a lovely tan, didn't it?

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?