Turnberg: Stay safe in sun’s raysI love the sun. Maybe it’s because we spend a good chunk of the year trapped inside, or we have such a small window of daylight in the winter months. But once these summer days start, I could spend every waking moment soaking up the warmth.
By: Michelle Turnberg, INFORUM
I love the sun.
Maybe it’s because we spend a good chunk of the year trapped inside, or we have such a small window of daylight in the winter months. But once these summer days start, I could spend every waking moment soaking up the warmth.
I spent four years working as a lifeguard in college. Every day in the summer my girlfriends and I would be at working at the pool, morning to night. I remember how we would catch a few rays between swimming lessons and lather up with suntan oil. We would scoff if someone had a bottle of SPF 8. “Why even bother?! No way you’re ever getting a tan with 8! Why even be outside?”
It was many years later when I noticed an odd looking spot on my chest.
I was working on a news story and interviewing a local plastic surgeon when I asked what she thought it might be. She sent me directly down the hall to dermatology and one look from Dr. Kelly confirmed: “That’s a carcinoma.”
Turns out it was basal cell carcinoma, or the good kind of skin cancer. Still, it didn’t feel good having a quarter sized chunk of skin removed and cauterized. Since then I have had three other areas of skin cancer and one nefarious looking pre-cancerous mole removed. These little surgeries have proven to be a good wake up call to change my habits.
If you haven’t done it yet, make an appointment with a dermatologist and strip down. Get checked out head to toe.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell tumors. They usually form on the head, face, neck, hands and arms. Another type of skin cancer, melanoma, is more dangerous but less common.
Anyone can get skin cancer, but, according to the NIH, it’s more common in people who:
• Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned
• Have light-colored skin, hair and eyes
• Have a family member with skin cancer
• Are over age 50
You should have your doctor check any suspicious skin markings and any changes in the way your skin looks. Treatment is more likely to work well when cancer is found early. If not treated, some types of skin cancer cells can spread to other tissues and organs and can be deadly.
I still love the sun, but now I do it wearing a sunblock with SPF 30 to 100.
SPF 8? Why even bother.
Michelle Turnberg writes a weekly column for SheSays.