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Four Steps to Sun Safety

Four Steps to Sun Safety

by Health & Wellness Team - June 09, 2014

For some of us, nothing feels as good as basking in the warm sun. But keep this in mind:
If you bask more than just a little, you’re exposing yourself to some big health risks.

An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). And one form of skin cancer—melanoma—is potentially deadly. But you can do a lot to protect yourself. Start by understanding these four facts:

One: Sunlight contains two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays—UVA and UVB. Both can be dangerous.

UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and can weaken the immune system. That can make it easier for cancer to develop. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn. Severe sunburns, particularly in childhood, increase the risk of skin cancer.

Most UV rays come from the sun, but they’re also generated by artificial light sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps. According to the AAD, all UV exposure is unsafe. You can lower your risk for skin cancer by limiting your exposure to UV rays.

Two: Tanned skin is damaged skin. This damage builds up over time, contributing to premature aging of the skin and the risk of skin cancer.

People who like the look of a tan should consider using a sunless tanning product, such as a bronzer or self-tanner. But, continue to use a sunscreen.

Three: Stick with proven protections. For example, use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher. Be sure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and follow application directions.

Also, cover up as much as you can. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sunglasses, and try to stay in the shade.

Four: Don’t rely on the sun for vitamin D. Instead, get this bone-building nutrient from a healthy diet.

Foods naturally containing vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon. Other foods such as milk, yogurt, orange juice and cereal often have vitamin D added.

For more information on sun safety, visit Shannon’s online healthy library at


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