Sun Exposure: Finding a Balance
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States. Since the main cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, people are conscious of the harmful effects of sun exposure.
Reducing your risk for skin cancer includes covering yourself with high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreens and avoiding midday sun. While there are still many sun worshipers out there, most people are now aware of the risks of sun exposure.
Experts suggest the following:
- Use sunscreen. Make sure the sunscreen protects against UV radiation.
- Do not stay out in the sun for a long time, especially when the sun is at its strongest (mid-morning to late afternoon).
- Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants. It is also a good idea to wear sun hats and sunglasses when outdoors.
- Do not use sunlamps and tanning booths.
The sun, however, does have certain health benefits. It can enhance your mood, protect against certain diseases, and boost your level of vitamin D. So should people work to balance their level of sun exposure—finding a common ground between getting enough, but not too much, rather than avoiding the sun altogether?
Ultraviolet rays from the sun are the main cause of skin cancer. Where you live may also be a risk factor. For instance, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who live in states with a higher level of UV rays from the sun had an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma. States with a higher amount of UV rays included Connecticut, Indiana, Arizona, California, and North Carolina.
Last reviewedOctober 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.