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Your Skin, Your Life: An Update

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016

With more sun and fun ahead this season, remember that protecting your skin from sun damage is of utmost importance.

Always apply about an ounce of sunscreen to exposed areas 20 minutes before going outside. Make sure your product has at least a 15 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and protects from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Also, try to limit outdoor play between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as rays are strongest during this period.

Thinking of using a tanning bed or booth to “condition” skin prior to sun exposure? Please, please reconsider. These tanning options put you at a 59 percent higher risk of developing melanoma (the most deadly kind of skin cancer). In an effort to protect public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued (December 2015) new restrictions on tanning salon businesses and the use of sunlamp products.

The new restrictions are that:

  1. Children ages 17 and younger are banned altogether from using indoor tanning beds and booths.
  2. Adults who choose to use the services (despite the dangers) must sign a risk-acknowledgement certification, noting they’ve been informed of the risks.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States; about 20 percent of Americans will develop the disease during their lifetimes. Why increase your odds of getting skin cancer by using sunlamp products? The new FDA restrictions are a strong warning that tanning bed use isn’t good for you at any age.

What about Getting Vitamin D?

If getting enough vitamin D concerns you, remember that eating the right foods is one way to compensate for lack of sun exposure. First of all, nearly all milk in the United States is fortified with vitamin D – as are many brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. You can also regularly add one of the three top vitamin-D super foods to your diet:  salmon (especially wild-caught), mackerel (especially wild-caught; eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury), and mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light. Others foods rich in vitamin D are tuna (canned in water), sardines (canned in oil), beef or calf liver, egg yolks, and cheese.