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Monday, June 2, 2008

Fun in the Sun

I have many little dark brown spots on my arms and a small mole on my chin. I look up at them every day wondering when they will turn on me and become cancerous. Oh little spots, I lovingly coat you with SPF 45 if I go out in the sun or keep you hidden under fabric so as not to expose you to the horrible UV rays that will ultimately mutate your fragile DNA and turn you against me.

Little spots will you let me have decades to live or just a few more years? Remember little spots, I protect you as best I can and stay out of the sun to keep you safe. Please don't hurt me.

Inevitably one of them will turn on me. With ozone depletion and living in a tropical zone it is pretty much guaranteed that one little spot or more will run rampant and maybe metastasize. Sad, but at least I do not use a tanning bed. Exposure to concentrated UVs would make it happen faster.

Have you noticed the increasing rates of cancer in teens who frequent tanning beds? I went to high school with two sisters who owned a tanning bed. They were always an unnaturally dark shade of brown all year long. They were both fair skinned with freckles prior to tanning bed use. Years of tanning add up.

Sadly, the younger sister developed a malignant skin tumor during pregnancy that metastasised. She carried the baby to term but died shortly after. I can't help but think the years of tanning bed use caused such a painful tragedy. She was in her early 20s. Much too young to have skin cancer in my book.

Manufacturers of tanning beds proclaim that their product is completely safe and does not lead to cancer. I think a retroactive study and a well controlled study following tanning bed users who start under the age of 18 and continue throughout life would prove them wrong.

Please be responsible with your skin. UV rays have a profoundly damaging cumulative effect on our skin cells. I definitely recommend at least SPF 45. I use it on regular skin, face, and any exposed skin if I am going out in the sun. I also use facial SPF daily. I am going to fight skin cancer every step of the way and you should too!


MrHunnybun said...

Very true. I get very cross with my patients when they manage to get themselves, or even worse their children, sunburned. I understand the concept that people will think you are affluent if you are tanned.
But, who cares what people think-give me pale and interesting anytime.
It's another self-induced illness isn't it-sun damage, smoking, obesity. Then again, it does keep us in work :)

Jeny said...

thank you for writing this. people don't take sunscreen and skin care seriously. i've always been VERY pale, and sometimes it bothers me. But it never bothers me enough to lay out in the sun or go into a tanning bed. my grandfather just had a skin cancer removed and still will not use sunscreen. it is all very bizarre to me. but i'm glad to hear im not the only one that uses sunscreen daily.

Anonymous said...

...pharmacy student from australia :P

we dont sell spf 45+ here, only 30+...learnt in maths class that 45 is only very slightly better then 30 rather then 50% better as the numbers suggest, just thought i'd put that out there :D