Regular readers know of my dealings in the skin cancer arena. Three appearances, three defeats, three basal cell carcinoma surgeries. If you want further details, you can find them here. I wanted to pass along this information to maybe save you from ill-considered do-it-yourself sunscreens. Skin cancer is serious stuff. Don’t risk it.
Social media and other online tools have changed the way people seek and share health information. Recent consumer interest in natural, organic, and ethically-made personal care products has led to an increase of shared recipes for homemade products including sunscreen. A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Brooks College of Health at University of North Florida examined how homemade sunscreens were portrayed on Pinterest.
The study, published in Health Communication, found that nearly all (95%) pins, or bookmarks, for homemade sunscreen positively portrayed the effectiveness of homemade sunscreens and most (68%) recommended recipes for homemade sunscreens that offered insufficient UV radiation protection. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) claims were made in a third of pins with a range of SPF 2 to SPF 50. This is concerning because the ingredients recommended in homemade sunscreen pins offer minimal scientifically proven broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation yet are widely shared and promoted as safe alternatives to commercial sunscreens on Pinterest. The average number of saves for a pin was 808, with one pin being saved more than 21,700 times.
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Makes sense. We should be coming into some sunny days right now. (Unless you live in Chicago as I do where we still have March temps).
In order to get through the coming sunny days herewith a list of links of all the items I have filed on skin cancer and sunburn since the blog began in 2010. This includes my own bout with skin cancer in 2012.
Looking at your face in the mirror, things that change in size, shape or color can be skin cancer.
Remember the words my dermatologist told me, “There’s no such thing as a healthy tan.”
Myths and facts about sunburn and sunscreen
Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard
How to protect yourself from sunburn and skin cancer
Do I have skin cancer?
What did I learn after being diagnosed with skin cancer?
What happened during my skin cancer surgery?
What about exercise after surgery?
Important facts about skin cancer?
What to do about extreme heat
At the risk of sounding like a reformed whore, now that I have succumbed to skin cancer, I am being extremely careful about protecting myself from the sun’s rays as well as everyone I meet who has a ‘nice tan.’ I may have become obnoxious in my zeal. I was especially interested in the talk on skin cancer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Healthy Transitions Program® this week. Here are some tips I picked up there.
There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. So says Dr. Neda Ashourian of the Northwestern Skin Cancer Institute, Ltd. Speaking before the hospital’s Healthy Transitions group, Dr. Ashourian said that the best you can get is water-resistant sunscreen. So reapply when you come out of the water.
On that subject she said that when buying sunscreen to get SPF 30 or greater. It is critical to look for the terms Broad Spectrum on the container. If those words aren’t present, the sunscreen, no matter how high the SPF rating, may not protect you from the damaging Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays of the sun.
Some other dangers from sun included – windows. The UVA rays can penetrate windows, but not the Ultraviolet B (UVB).
You can get sunburn on a cloudy day because 80 percent of the sun’s rays penetrate clouds and fog.
At the beach sand reflects ultraviolet rays so you have to be doubly careful there and be certain that you have fresh sunscreen on. You need to reapply sunscreen after two hours because it wears off.
Finally, the end of summer is not the end of danger from ultraviolet light. Snow reflects UV light so you need to protect your face when skiing or engaging in other outdoor activities.
I have written about sunburn several times in the past couple of weeks and I want to reiterate probably the most important concept I have learned, namely there is no such thing as a healthy tan. I am disturbed to realize that as I have always prided myself on the nice tan that I got out riding in the sun. But, a “nice tan” is the siren song of skin cancer. Pay her no heed.
On a related subject, please check out my Page – How to Deal With Extreme Heat.