Thursday, June 28, 2012

Skin Check Reminder

Be sun smart

Living in 113* heat means that water is an important part of surviving the summer. We do not have a pool because I am not a strong swimmer and we have young kids. Pool safety, even sans pool, is important.

My 4 year old is learning to swim and being more confident in the water. I've been taking water aerobics and we plan another round of swimming. In areas where the weather is a tad more pleasurable, sun exposure is likely as intense due to the time spent outdoors.

There have been numerous reports recently about how skin cancer is prevalent and how even those who use sunblock sunscreen or a "tanning lotion" are at higher risk for skin cancer.

This week I took myself to the dermatologist. I'm in my early 30s, living in the "land of the sun" with fair skin, blue eyes and freckles. With the start of swimming lessons, I noticed a new "mole" on my back and decided enough is enough, I need a full body check. Not knowing is not worth the risk - my lovely $60 copay gave me a body check up and piece of mind for the next year.

Baby needs a cap!

Use sunscreen SPF30+

Use sunscreen with zinc oxide as the active ingredient, which is one of the "recommended" for UVA blocking (the others being chemicals mexoryl and parsol 1789 or avobenzine). 

Don't use tanning beds

Don't use the tanning bed. There are no safe tanning beds. The nurse practitioner I saw asked me about tanning bed use - I did use it infrequently as a teen and while it has been 15 years since I've used the tanning bed, I know many people (listen up family!) who do use them regularly still. Here are some facts on tanning beds (from

  • Those who make just four visits to a tanning salon per year can increase their risk for melanoma by 11 percent, and their risk for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma by 15 percent.57

  • Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a proven human carcinogen.33 Currently tanning beds are regulated by the FDA as Class I medical devices, the same designation given elastic bandages and tongue depressors.34
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of the most dangerous cancer-causing substances.35 Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes, and solar UV radiation.36
  • Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure.37
  • Ten minutes in a sunbed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun.38
  • Nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the U.S. every year39; 2.3 million of them are teens.40
  • On an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons.41
  • Seventy-one percent of tanning salon patrons are girls and women aged 16-29.42
  • Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.43
  • People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.44

  • Wear Protective Clothing

    Clothing can offer protection as well from the sun. I am not a sun worshiper. I believe in the value of Vitamin D, but I also am not afraid of my freckles and white skin. I'd rather have ultra pale skin than skin cancer. There are a variety of protective clothing lines that have UV protection built in. A tightly woven cotton t-shirt will also work. 

    I came from my appointment knowing I'm okay right now. But it was a good reminder to apply sunscreen, be diligent about not being in the sun when it is "peak" time (in Phoenix it is 9 am - 6 pm, lovely) and to not only protect my skin, but also my face (wide-brimmed hat), eyes (sunglasses) and lips (use an SPF lip balm)


    Kate Schwartz said...

    thank you for posting on such an important issue. i think we forget that we need to be wise in our choices!! Thank you!!

    Savannah Cooper-Hughes said...

    Good reminder! Thank you! I live in Hawaii. We get the sun, but not the heat like you do in Phoenix. Not fun! I need to be more diligent with my kids too. I recently learned about sunglasses for kids (thanks for your comment :) ) and how important they are. I'm going to start bringing them with us to the park every day as well as sunscreen!

    Just Add Cloth said...

    My husband was a lifeguard many years ago and the results are present on his back today. Every year he has to get spots of skin cancer removed. He wore sunscreen and covering tops all the time, but wasn't enough for thousands of hours of constant exposure. Diet can really help your body fix the damage too.