ven, 06/21/2013

Use Sunscreen – Dangers and Benefits of Sunbathing

Does anyone remember the Australian directors Baz Luhrmann's music single "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", released in 1999? In this speech are a lot of good advises but the most important one is: “Wear Sunscreen!!!” [The speech is actually written by Mary Schmich and is called: "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young". It was published in the Chicago Tribune as a column on June 1, 1997. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement speech she would give if she were asked to give one.] Since the release of the single – and especially in Australia the problem of skin cancer was already grave back then – the skin cancer problem has become more serious day by day.

The New York Times writes: “Even with sunscreen sales approaching $1 billion a year, skin cancer rates continue to climb. Melanoma diagnoses have risen nearly 2 percent a year since 2000 and are increasing even more among young white women.” It is not quite clear why this is so, but often sunscreen only protects skin from the ultraviolet B rays which cause sunburns. They do not protect from ultraviolet A rays which are associated with aging and skin damage, but – as some experts believe may be implicated in skin cancer too. Best is to use sunscreen with at least the factor 15 and which has a broad spectrum, meaning protecting against UVA and UVB. Best is to avoid the sun as good as possible altogether. Children under six months should not be in the direct sun at all. More details and advise are in the NYT-article.

On the other hand sun is healthy too. It supplies us via the eyes with Vitamin D, which the body cannot make itself or get from other sources. And of course sun is responsible for being in good mood as well. For long this have to be believed the only benefits of the sun for human health (forgetting that there would be no life without sun). Now research at Edinburgh University suggests sunlight helps reduce blood pressure, cutting heart attack and stroke risks and even prolonging life, the BBC reports. And Dr Richard Weller, a senior lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh University, went as far as saying: "We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer.” That really is something new.

And then there is the study of researchers at the University of Queensland that says that using sunscreen every day, no matter if one is out in the sun or not, makes the skin getting older slower. The downside: it only works if you start before the skin is already damaged by the sun.

If you need medical treatment for skin cancer you can contact us.