According to the American Cancer Society, the rates of new cancer cases are declining for most cancer sites. Good news, right? Well, the article added that new cancer cases are increasing among both men and women for melanoma of the skin. Why the rise? Well, our obsession with tan skin drives us to put skin health on the back burner. We opt for tanning beds and tanning lotions instead for natural sun and SPF protection. With Spring Break rapidly approaching, it’s time that I play “mom” and remind me you of the importance of protecting your skin while in the sun!
Many people go to indoor tanning salons to develop a “base tan” for their big trip. But guess what? There is little evidence to support this to be true! According to Dr. Gibson in a Mayo Clinic article, “Tanning under the sun or a sunlamp gives protection that is equivalent to a sun protection factor (SPF) of 4 or less, which translates into a little extra time in the sun before you start to burn. But the larger issue is that any change in skin color is a sign of damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Repeated exposure to UV radiation whether from the sun or a tanning bed increases your risk of premature skin aging and skin cancer.”
Notice, I said sunscreen-not tanning lotion that only has SPF 4. Experts and doctors suggest applying an SPF of 15 or higher? But what does the number after the SPF really mean? I did some research this is what Web MD told me, “The SPF factor rates how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays. If you’d normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning.”