Orientation in the inscrutable jungle of skin cancer prevention

I want everything under the sun but skin cancer. Summer has always been my favorite time of the year. I have never worried whether a sun tan is fashionable or not, I just loved being under the sun, at the beach, close to the sea. Skin cancer has become an issue for me now, as CLL makes me vulnerable to other types of cancer as well.

Skin cancer is on the list of so called “second cancers” people suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia have a higher risk to get. Being over 40 and keen to avoid a “second cancer”, I am trying to find a clue in all those confusing facts and figures I hear about.

There is one thing everybody seems to agree upon: the time around noon is the most dangerous period for UV exposure. UV rays can also reach my skin on cloudy days, not only on beautiful summer days. Australians, where the ozone layer is believed to be damaged, have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. There are some who says this is the consequence of an ozone hole to be found in Antarctica and others who say the reason is the light complexion inherited by their ancestors from the Northern Hemisphere. There are those who insist it’s best to use 50 plus sun protection to prevent skin cancer and others who are certain that sunscreen lotions actually cause cancer due to all their harmful chemical ingredient. Some studies show that skin cancer rates are highest in those places where sun protection is promoted heavily. People with a lighter complexion are more likely to develop melanoma, whether or not the use sun protection, alternative studies suggest.

In this jungle of contradictions, I have been able to find some advice which is valuable for skin cancer prevention.

1.)    Stay in the shade – a simple, but decent recommendation which you should take seriously especially at midday hours (“from eleven to three under a tree”)

2.)   Use adequate clothing to protect yourself from the sun. Light clothes with long sleeves, hats and sunglasses will help you to those evil UV rays fight off

3.)    If you use sunscreen lotions, chose SPF15 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection.

4.)   There are those who believe that our eating and sleeping habits contribute to skin cancer. Whereas processed food is bad for our skin, a diet rich in antioxidants with fish, red, orange and green vegetables, green tea as well as dark chocolate as a treat is beneficial for protecting our skin against hazardous UV rays and other environmental influences.

5.)   Resist indoor tanning. It’s bad for you.

Last but not least: do not consider the sun your enemy. If you are exposed to sunlight, UV-B rays convert the cholesterol found in your skin into Vitamin D. Your whole body needs vitamin D to function. Unfortunately, malnutrition combined with our growing fear of the sun has made a lack of vitamin D one of the most common nutritional deficiencies.  And please….do enjoy the summer!

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