While summer is winding down in Cape Town and our mornings and evenings are becoming nippy, we need to make sure we protect ourselves from the damage the sun can cause year round. Here are a few more interesting Sun Facts to follow on from our previous post (Sun Facts 1).
Use of a sunbed once a month or more increases your skin cancer risk by 55%. This risk is increased for those using the sunbed from their 20s. Sunbeds can also damage your eyes and your immune system, and the notion of “prophylactic” tanning by using a sunbed before going on a summer holiday is also detrimental to your health, not only because of the sunbed, but also because the mistaken belief that having a tan will protect your skin from burning means that you are exposing your skin to the sun for longer and with less protection than you would had you not had your “pre-tan”. Exposure to UV is cumulative and increases your risk not only of melanoma but of other skin cancers too, as well as premature aging.
Your skin cancer risk doubles with more than 5 sunburns in your lifetime. While generalisations and sweeping statements are always going to find trouble, I wonder how any Caucasian South Africans can HONESTLY say that they have had less than 5 sunburns? While this risk is not reserved for white people, they are surely the group who does the most damage to their skin firstly due to its vulnerability and secondly due to the belief that tanned skin is more attractive. The unfortunate fact is that if you’ve already indulged in those 5(+) sunburns you can’t turn back time and undo them, but what you can do is protect yourself going forward and stop that risk from further increasing.
The right hat can reduce UV exposure by 70% for the head and neck. And this is not rocket science. By choosing a brim of 4 or more inches, and avoiding hats that are loosely woven allowing the sun to stream through them in little squares, you can in fact protect your face and neck from UV damage on any day of the year. Hat-wearing may make your hair less glam, but the benefits or protecting your skin on your face and neck, which are exposed to the sun daily, will be the gift that keeps on giving.