The Skin Cancer Foundation
Skin cancer is a lifestyle disease, affecting young women, older men and everyone in between. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime; 13 million Americans are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, and nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
But there is good news: because skin cancer is chiefly a lifestyle disease, it is also highly preventable.
“About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun,” says Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Everyone, regardless of skin color, should make staying safe in the sun a priority and incorporate sun protection measures into their daily life.”
What is Broad Spectrum UV Protection and Why do I need it?:
First, let's be clear, UV (sun) protection is THE single most important thing you can do to combat Photoaging - the premature aging of your skin - and some other harmful effects.
You should ensure that you only use broad spectrum UV protection, the kind which provides protection from the damaging effects of both UVA and UVB rays. (UV means Ultra Violet and refers to the radiation emitted by the sun).
Whats the difference? Think A for "Aging" and B for "Burning".
Acceptable levels of UVB exposure will induce Vitamin D production in the skin However, over exposure to UVB rays will burn the surface of your skin. UVB radiation stimulates the formulation of melanin, causing a significant pigmentation of the skin. This darkening effect (aka sun tan) becomes evident within approximately 24 hours and is relatively long-lasting.
However, if you're out in the sun without sun protection, its the UVA rays that are aging your skin, even though you may not burn or tan. Up to 95% of the suns radiation that reaches the skin is UVA. These rays penetrate deeper into the dermis or base layer of the skin, where connective tissue and blood vessels exist. The result is a loss of elasticity that causes the skin to sag, wrinkle, and age prematurely. And It is the UVA rays that can cause skin damage and cancer.
Unlike UVB rays, UVA radiation levels have only small fluctuations during the day, and are present from sunrise to sunset every day, all year round, even in the winter and on cloudy days. UVA rays can even pass through windows and glass, making the indoors, near windows, equally dangerous for your skin.
Anna Lotan now offers Day Creams which provide comprehensive broad spectrum UV defense for all skin types.
(For completeness, it is worth noting that there are also UVC rays, however these do not make it through the earths atmosphere.)
By the way, if you are wondering what the SPF number really means ... using a product rated SPF20 (for example) means that you can stay safely in the sun for up to twenty times longer than you could without the lotion. The actual duration of safe exposure will vary according to your particular skintype.
You should also remember that SPF is only a measure of the “protection” a product provides against the UVB rays. There is, as yet, no common standard for rating UVA protection. So looking at the SPF number alone is insufficient to determine if a product affords broad spectrum sun protection. You need to read the label to be sure. Broad spectrum sun products will clearly state that they provide UVB and UVA sun protection.
Responsible sun exposure can allow us all to enjoy the outdoors.
Remember to apply sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days.
Remember clothing can provide great sun protection, so wear long sleeves, wide brimmed hats, pants and sunglasses.
Avoid being outside between 10 am and 4 pm if possible and avoid tanning beds.
See your dermatologist yearly for a skin exam and perform self skin exams several times year.