As a fair redhead, I learned at a young age that I'm never going
to be tan regardless of how "in style" it is to be golden
brown. In my teens, I decided the best thing to do was embrace
my pale skin and lather on the sunscreen to protect
myself. Yes, I own bottles that say SPF 100+ and wear them
religiously. I even have a daily regimen that includes
sunscreen, and so should you!
Although most of the country is still in the middle of winter,
it's a new year, and time for a new attitude about your health--and
that includes your attitude about the sun. A recent report by the
University of Miami found that despite boasting the moniker the
Florida has more tanning beds than CVS pharmacies or McDonald's
restaurants. And a new study by the Irish Cancer Society found
that many young people think
tanned skin looks healthier than pale skin and that tanning beds
help build a "safe base tan." Clearly, what these people don't
know is that
people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their
risk for melanoma by 75 percent.
Despite years of campaigns aimed at sun safety, it seems that
the message just isn't getting through to teenagers, who often
think they are invincible and that cancer of any kind happens to
other people, but not them. That's why it's extra important to
remind teens before they throw down a towel and stretch out next to
the pool that many signs of aging come from skin damage received in
your teens. In a culture obsessed with youth, this is an important
fact of which young girls stretching out in
tanning booths are apparently unaware.
A Quick Breakdown About Cancer that Could Save Your
But beyond the negative impact sun has your appearance, there's
an even more important reason to start slathering on sunscreen.
Yup, you guessed it. The most important reason to start a sunscreen
regimen early--and then stick to it--is skin cancer. If there is
one message that public health advocates and health communicators
need to force through all the noise it's this: that sunburn and
even that golden bronze tan is sun damage, and sun damage leads to
The most common and easily treatable form of skin cancer is
basal cell carcinoma. Basal cells carcinomas are abnormal,
uncontrolled growths that arise in the skin's basal cells, which
line the deepest layer of your skin. This form is the least likely
to spread. However, if left unchecked, basal cell carcinoma will
continue to grow and can get quite unsightly. Basal cell carcinoma
is usually identified and surgically removed by a
Then there is
squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). SCC is an uncontrolled growth of
abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which are made up of
the upper-most layers of your skin. They most often occur on the
nose, forehead, ears, lower lip, hands, and other areas commonly
exposed to the sun. If found early, SCC is easily treatable.
However, if left to grow, SCC can grow deep into the lower layers
of your skin, and removing it can result in disfigurement. More to
the point, if left to grow, some SCCs have also been known to
spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Last but not least--and the most feared--is melanoma.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma occurs
when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers a mutation that
leads to rapidly multiplying skin cancer. Melanomas are malignant
tumors that can metastasize all over the body and often resemble
moles. So if you have moles, make sure you are checking them
regularly for changes in size and color. Changes
in size and color can occur when the cells turn cancerous.
Hopefully, you will rethink your plans to lay out by the pool
with minimal SPF. The importance of a daily sunscreen regimen can't
be stressed enough. Not only is it important for your prolonged
youth and beauty, but most importantly, it is essential for your