Absolutely! Sun exposure can cause sunburn, wrinkles, age spots, and contribute to skin cancer. But despite that, 31% of Americans say they NEVER wear sunscreen, even if they are outside for more than four hours. Say it ain’t so, Joe.
A report in USA Today says that these data are based on a poll of 1,000 adults, age 18 and older, conducted by Consumer Reports’ National Research Center.
Only 27% of men and 48% of women usually put on sunscreen if they are planning to spend two to four hours in the sun.
And only 27% of parents with kids under 12 say they never or only sometimes apply sunscreen to their children when they are outside two to four hours.
Worse yet, 14% don’t apply sunscreen to their kids when they are outside for more than four hours.
Nevertheless, skin cancer is a concern, with 22% of those polled saying they had been examined by the doctor for something they thought might be skin cancer, and 14% saying they’ve been told by a physician that they are at risk of skin cancer.
You KNOW you should be using it, so, as the Nike commercial says, “Just do it!”
Here are some tips:
1) Have a moisturing sunscreen by your toothbrush. If you’re going to be out in the sun that day, just apply the sunscreen in the morning before you leave the house.
Consumer Reports examined different sunscreens’ ability to protect against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation and found that most do the job well.
In the July issue, the magazine names three best buys:
- Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50;
- Coppertone Water Babies SFP 50 (lotion);
- Target Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 (brand name has changed to Up & Up).
Also, getting good ratings:
- Aveeno Continuous Protection Spray SPF 45 (this formula is being changed to SPF 50, but the magazine did not test that version); and
- Bull Frog Marathon Mist Continuous Spray SPF 36.
Several highly rated products from 2007 are still available, including:
- Blue Lizard Regular Australian SPF 30+;
- Mustella Bébé/Enfant High Protection SPF 50;
- Lancôme Paris Sôleil Ultra Expert Sun Care for Sensitive Skin SPF 50; and
- Fallene Cotz SPF 58.
However, these tend to be more expensive than this year’s Best Buys.
Consumer Reports told USA Today, “We didn’t find any meaningful differences between sprays and lotions in terms of protection this year or last year.”
Jamie Hirsh, associate health editor for the magazine, said, “It’s really a personal preference. With the sprays, they may be trickier to apply, especially if it’s windy.”
2) Use Dr. Walt’ 20:20 rule
Use a sunscreen with at least an SPF 20 (sun protection factor) and apply it at least 20 minutes before sun exposure (as it takes that long for the sunscreen to absorb into and begin protecting the skin cells.
And choose a sunscreen that protects againt UVA and UVB rays. Both types of UV rays can cause skin cancer.
3) Don’t forget vitamin D
As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, most of us (adults and children) are deficient in vitamin D. Since it’s produced when the sun strikes the skin, using a sunscreen can increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Therefore, you may want to consider a supplement of 800 – 1000 IU per day of vitamin D, especially if you’re using sunscreen on a daily basis.
Here are some of my previous blogs on vitamin D:
- Specific vitamins and a supplement (B vitamins, vitamin D, and calcium) may lower risk of stroke, blindness, and cancer (Wednesday, 25 February 2009)
- Are multivitamins helpful or harmful when it comes to preventing chronic diseases? (Wednesday, 18 February 2009)
- Vitamin D tests soar as deficiency, diseases linked (Monday, 14 July 2008)
- Lack of vitamin D raises death risk (Wednesday, 25 June 2008)
- Vitamin D recommendations for teens may be too low (Friday, 13 June 2008)
- Vitamin D may protect against heart attack (Thursday, 12 June 2008)
- Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Artery Disease (Monday, 9 June 2008)