During a recent conversation with relatives and a few friends, I realized there are unknown truths about our skin and the use of sunscreen lotion. Two of the five people apart of the conversation understood the effects while the others made comments along the lines of “Black people don’t need sunscreen”. The conversation immediately took a turn for the intense after a bunch of know-it-alls proved they knew nothing at all.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind, while the sun plays a major role in the development of skin cancer, it isn’t the only way the disease is formed. There are other causes. For the sake of educating the black community on skin cancer, I will focus on skin cancer caused by the sun.
For starts, skin cancer (Melanoma is the most common but there are others) is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute, over one million people are diagnosed per year. Skin cancer is caused by the ultraviolet (UV) rays that makes up one part of the sun.
Truth is…anyone can get skin cancer.
It does not affect light skin alone, although skin cancer is more common in individuals with lighter skin tones. Darker skin takes a longer period of time to burn but it doesn’t mean our skin is invulnerable. Think about a burning candle, while the wax at the bottom of the jar remains un-touched, if you let the flame burn long enough eventually it will reach that point.
The sun releases two types of radiation that are harmful to us:
- Ultraviolet A Rays that age the skin
- Ultraviolet B Rays burn the skin
Both kinds cause CANCER!
Stay out of the sun as much as you can. Whenever possible, avoid exposure to the sun from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you work or play outside, then…
- Try to wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat that shades your face, ears, and neck with a brim all around.
- Use sunscreen with a label that says it is broad spectrum or is at least SPF 15 and can filter both UVA and UVB rays.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
- Wear sunglasses that filter UV to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes.
- If you are concerned about having a low level of vitamin D from not being in the sun, consider taking supplements.
- Don’t use tanning beds, tanning booths, or sunlamps.
To be sure you understand things:
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or higher is recommended by the FDA.
- A higher SPF number does NOT equal better sun protection.
- Opt for a sunscreen that’s labeled “broad spectrum” this means all harmful rays in the sun are blocked. You will only be fully protected by sunscreen labeled broad spectrum.
- Avoid bottles labeled water proof and swim proof because they’re false and misleading and was recently banned by the FDA.
Interesting facts found on skincancerprevention.org:
- The sun is the primary source of excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is the cause of most skin cancers. Immediate adverse effects of excessive exposure are sunburn and eye damage; longer effects include premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
- The Friday before Memorial Day is Don’t Fry Day
Ladies, we can still look fabulous on the beach just do so while protecting your skin.
National Cancer Institure, http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/prevention/skin/anyone-can-get-skin-cancer