Sun Protection

Uploaded by chapmalf on 17.05.2011

Summer, whether it's here now, or on its way is a wonderful time of year.
Winter is gone, school's out and everyone's out grilling and soaking in something in the summer fun.
When one pictures summer, the image that most often comes to mind
is a bright sunny day outside complete with warm temperatures and bright sunlight.
Everyone knows that too much direct sunlight on your skin causes sunburn and could increase
your risk of developing skin cancer.
So how do we protect ourselves from harmful sunlight?
But first, what is sunlight exactly?
We know that it comes from the sun, but how is it produced?
Our sun is a star that's composed of gases and it burns through a process called
nuclear fusion
This causes the sun to emit energy in the form of light and heat.
What all people don't know however is that the light we can see is only a small portion
of the light emitted by the sun.
Human eyes can only see a small portion of the light spectrum, although the whole spectrum
can affect their bodies.
Along with the light we see,
the sun emits x-rays,
infrared, and even radio waves
Luckily for us, the Earth's atmosphere absorbs most of these harmful rays.
the light that does get through however contains a potentially harmful amount of
UV radiation.
When it comes to exposure to UV light, it's a fine line.
Your skin is a living organ and it needs sunlight.
The UV-B radiation causes your skin to produce
vitamin D.
A deficiency of vitamin D can actually put your body at risk for developing cancer.
It's important for us to receive enough sunlight during the summer to stay healthy,
but we must also take preventive measures to address overexposure.
We all know that sunscreen protects your skin from sunlight,
but the details may be hidden from you by the retailers.
The best protection from harmful UV rays is protective clothing and shade,
especially when being out in the summer sun between 10am and 3pm,
avoidance of direct sunlight is important.
However no one wants to, or even can realistically avoid all direct sunlight.
The more intense the light, the more of your skin you want to protect.
Wearing a brimmed hat is very helpful as
are sleaved shirts and shoes as opposed to sandals.
However for the areas of your skin that are exposed,
it is important to wear sunscreen, but not all sunscreens are created or marketed equally.
The effectiveness of sunscreens is measured in sun protection factor, or SPF.
We all see this number on sunscreens bottles but what does it mean?
It's true that a higher SPF sunscreens block more UV radiation, but beyond SPF 50,
there is little difference.
Sunscreen companies like to charge you more money for the same amount of protection marketed
as a higher SPF.
The SPF factor only measures blockage of UV-B radiation
and not UV-A.
When purchasing sunscreen, make sure to look for brand that advertises protection from
both UV-A
and UV-B radiation.
Also, the fairer your skin and the more susceptible you are to sunburn,
the higher SPF factor you'll need.
In a 2007 study, sunlight is accurately referred to as a carcinogen.
A carcinogen is anything that causes cancer
The study aimed to find a balance between the risks and benefits of sun exposure.
The study analyzed a large sample of solar spectral irradiance data gathered from Kuwait City.
Geographically, Kuwait City receives about the same amount of sunlight as Houston, TX.
This solar radiance data measured the amount of UV radiation from the sun
throughout the day.
This data was used to calculate for for effects of exposure to sunlight both with
and without sunscreen.
It was found that SPF 15 sunscreen
blocked a large amount of vitamin D-producing UV-B radiation,
but also allows the some DNA-damaging light through.
Based on the results of the study,
a brief unprotected exposure to mid-day sunday was optimal for maximum vitamin D production.
After this exposure however, it is important to wear protective clothing,
avoid direct sunlight, and apply sunscreen.
Also it may take more sunscreen to provide adequate protection that you might think.
Sunscreen will provide
protection wherever applied, but to be effective there must be a visible layer of it as
opposed to a thin gloss.
For example, when wearing a bathing suit, it would take about one ounce of sunscreen
to protect all of the exposed skin.
For reference, that's about the size of a shot glass.
It's important to get outside during the summer
and expose our skin to direct sunlight in order to maintain good health
However, measures should be taken to protect from overexposure to intense sunlight.
A motto adopted by the American Cancer Society
is Slip, Slop, Slap
For Slip on a shirt, Slap on some sunscreen
and slap on a hat.
If these protective measures are taken,
you can bask in the glow of healthy skin and a healthy body.