Sun Protection Habits That Fight Against Aging and Skin Cancer

By Ken D Taylor | Healthy Aging Body

Aug 03
best-sun-protection

The sun shines beautiful light that powers all of nature, giving us a nice dose of Vitamin D, a cheery attitude, and a wonderful summer tan. But the sun can be seriously bad for you.

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"Sunburn is evolution's way of telling us to not go outside."  - Sandie, wittyprofiles.com

Bad sun protection habits like prolong or repeated exposure of the sun’s harmful rays is the biggest cause for your skin to not age well. For both men and women this means they will look older than their age due to the facial sun damage that creates wrinkles and sagging skin.

In two tests it was found that the number of wrinkles is a good marker of the total time spent in the sun.1 Folks with lower levels of exposure will look 8 to 16 years younger than folks exposed to high levels.2 

Worse than that, being exposed to high levels will also increase the chances of getting cancer.​

The Downside Of Tanning

A suntan is the body's natural response to damaging ultraviolet sun rays. What happens is that a pigment called melanin is produced by the skin cells when the body senses sun damage. The melanin than absorbs ultraviolet light and dissipates it as heat.

Getting a nice tan year-after-year will lead to wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. When the skin cell defenses are overwhelmed, the result is a sunburn, and this can happen even if you have a tan.

The Key Point

  • ​It doesn't matter how much sunscreen you have slapped on, if you lay in the sun for a long enough time you can still damage the skin.

How The Sun Rays Bust Up Your DNA

Invisible ultraviolet light carries more energy than the light visible to humans, and this energy packs a tiny punch. Ultraviolet light is invisible, it has a lot more “punch” (energy) than visible light. UV light exposure is constantly “punching” your DNA in your skin cells. The punching will eventually bust up some of your DNA bonds. Not a good thing.

However, your body is a miracle worker. These busted up DNA bonds will usually want to commit suicide. Once the body senses these cells committing suicide the burned area is flooded with blood to help the healing process. This usually gives the person the steamed-lobster look, and the skin is often sensitive to touch.

Second-degree burns are similar to burns from being too close to fire. The skin blisters with liquid-filled protective bubbles over the damaged skin.

Several days after the final sun ravaged carnage, dead skin cells begin to peel off. This is the body telling the the cells, "You need to die off before becoming a problem, like a mutating cell."

BUT, here's the problem: There are times when the sun-damaged mutated DNA cells keep growing as cancers. The UV light caused random damaged DNA to avoid dying.

The Result:

  • ​Folks who get sunburnt regularly are at a high risk of getting melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
  • And “regularly” doesn’t need to be that many times.
  • According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, anyone who has received five or more bouts of sunburn in their lifetime will double the risk for getting cancer.

Know Your Skin Type

To get the best sun protection you need to know what skin type you are wearing so you can understand how your skin will react to extended sun exposure. This is done by using the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Quiz. This skin classification quiz was developed by Thomas Fitzpatrick, MD, at Harvard Medical School in 1975.

The graph below is a rough guide showing the six skin types and their related cancer risks.

Click picture to enlarge

skin-type-cancer-risk

If you are interested in taking the Skin Type Quiz please click the button below. There's no sign-up.


How To Screen Yourself For Skin Cancer

Here are the ABCDEs of melanoma detection. Contact your doctor if you find moles with any of these characteristics. Or if a mole changes, itches, bleeds, appears different from others.

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn't look like the other half.
  • Border: The border is irregular or poorly defined.
  • Color: The color of the mole varies.
  • Diameter: The mole is bigger than a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the others or is changing is size, shape, or color.

Global Solar UV Index

Next up, you need to be aware of just how quickly your skin will burn without protection. Below is the new Global Solar UV Index chart that was adopted in 2004 by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), NWS (National Weather Service), and WHO (World Health Organization)

Caution: Some older UV Index guides list "time to burn". This can be dangerous because folks can think of this as a "safe period" which they do not have take any protective action. This is wrong!
The UV Index should never be used to suggest that unprotected exposure is risk-free.

Global Solar UV Index

The Global Solar UV Index

Here's a nifty little UV Index widget to find the UV index for your zip code. If your zip code can't be found try searching for your city and state.

Below are some interesting facts about the myth and reality when out in the sun.

Click picture to enlarge

sun-protection-myths-realities

Sun Protection Clothing-The Best Way Prevent Sunburn

Folks using sun protective clothing have been able to go kayaking for hours at a stretch without getting a sunburn. Sun protection clothing are designed to filter out the sun's harmful rays. The clothes, including hats and swimsuits carry a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating from 15 to 50+. The higher the number the stronger the protection. UPF is comparable to SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of sunscreens.

UV protective clothing is rated by either fiber density, for example, its thread count per inch or the fabric is pre-treated with a UV-inhibiting ingredient.

Wearing sun protective clothing covers the most amount of skin, and doesn't need to be re-applied every couple of hours making it a far better choice than sunscreen. Clothing acts as physical blocker of the harmful sun rays where sunscreen is ​applied to the bare skin, and may not be applied equally to all parts of the body.

There are over 2 million Americans getting diagnosed with some kind of malignancy each year. No matter what your skin type, you can drastically cut the chances of getting skin cancer wearing sun protective clothing while at the same time enjoying any sunny outdoor activity for any length of time.

​Play in the sun while looking good!

High quality sun protection clothing will be light enough and incredibly comfortable even on hot summer days. Some clothes have vents under the arms and at other places that promote comfort in hot weather.

The fashion is catching on. There are many great looking styles to protect yourself and your kids​. Kids are especially vulnerable, they can't tell when 2-hours is up and it's time for another application of sunscreen. Kid's sun clothing protects them. Of course, unprotected areas like the back of their hands still need sunscreen. 

Here's a link to Amazon's Popular (4 Star & Up) Children's Sun Protection Clothing 
kids-sun-protection-clothing

Just a small sample of what you'll find at Amazon. Click link above photo to see more at Amazon and checkout their latest prices.

There will be some trendsetters wearing a nice looking long sleeve or hot looking coverup poolside knowing that they wont have to spend time and money having skin lesions removed.

Link to Amazon's Popular (4 Star & Up) Adult's Sun Protection Clothing

Click picture to enlarge

sun-protective-clothing-adults

A small sample of what's available at Amazon. Click link above photo to see more at Amazon and checkout the latest prices.

References:

  1. Influence of chronic UV exposure and lifestyle on facial skin photo-aging–results from a pilot study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10709362
  2. Quantitative evaluation of skin condition in an epidemiological survey of females living in northern versus southern Japan. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11514124
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About the Author

Ken D Taylor is an active aging member of the human race. His mission is finding ways to make each trip around the sun filled with healthy days– his story

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