Today I want to talk about a huge hurdle when trying to live a longer life and one that needs to be talked about. It is called Sun Exposure. Nearly 80 percent of lifetime sun damage occurs before the age of 18 so even though you may be well past your first 18 years, this is something so very important to pass down to your children and grandchildren now. The more sun exposure you had, the more likely you are to face wrinkles, splotches, freckles and skin discolorations when you look in the mirror at age 50. Even more dangerous is your heightened risk for skin cancer later in later decades.
Your odds of developing skin cancer are higher if you have pale skin, blonde or red hair, and or blue eyes. These are all signs that your skin has low levels of protective melanin. If you endured three or more blistering sunburns before age 15, you’re at higher risk for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Five early sunburns doubles it. Having a job that kept you outdoors for at least three summers during your teens or twenties – such as lifeguarding, being a camp counselor, or working on a farm, in a park, or at a construction site increases your chances as well.
Oddly, so does a history of being careful. If you were one of the first to jump on the suntan lotion bandwagon in the 1950’s and 1960’s, you may have felt free to stay on the beach longer because the lotion kept you from burning quickly. What you didn’t know is that until recently most tanning lotions and sunscreens only protected against UVB rays and did nothing to guard skin from damaging UVA rays. UVA rays are weaker but penetrate deeper into the skin and may play a role in triggering melanoma; experts know for sure that they contribute to skin aging, wrinkling, the development of brown spots and blotching.
Can you undo this deadly sin? Unfortunately this is one you can not.
Sun Damage cannot be erased, but you can take steps to prevent further damage, to reduce your odds for developing skin cancer, and for spotting potential cancer in its earliest most treatable stages.
Taking steps now will help you prevent further damage to your skin and help ensure early detection of skin cancers. You’ll also experience reduced skin inflammation, meaning less strain on your immune system.
Here is a repair plan for prior sun damage
So the best advice here is to continue to be careful in the sun and watch your body for skin changes, by yourself and your health care providers. I would imagine that no one can say they have not participated in potential skin damaging activities in their past so this is advice that applies to everyone. You need to also take the time now to educate the children you are responsible for or in contact with: your younger siblings, your children, your grandchildren and your nieces and nephews. By stepping in and teaching them how to stay protected from the sun you could be giving them the greatest gift of all - longer life!
Giving you the most current and up to date advice on living a longer and active life.
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