Bank Holiday let’s get ready for summer sunshine

Sunday 10th June 2012

Bermuda shorts, loud shirt and dodgy Panama hat.

Preparations for our annual holiday at the end of the month are well underway – and that pile on the end of the bed comprises my traditional holiday garb.

The family have long since given up on trying to reform me – in fact I think they would be disappointed if I changed my apparel.

Seeing me in my comedy shorts has become as much a part of the holiday as basking in golden sunshine and chomping through plates of freshly grilled fish.

But there is also one other holiday essential that needs packing – our natural sun protection products

When we hit the beaches of Portugal we experience levels of sunshine way beyond anything we encounter in Bristol, and we need to protect ourselves.

Developing skin cancer is not on anyone’s holiday to do list, is it?

It might sound obvious, but so many people don’t take this stuff seriously – putting a dollop of lotion onto your flesh won’t put your manhood at risk!

Yes chaps, I am talking to you in particular...

...The Institute of Cancer Research reckons we are the worst culprits for avoiding any protection.

Their research shows that only about a third of us reach for suntan lotion in summer, even if we are abroad, compared to two thirds of the fairer sex.

The risks of developing skin cancers are not insignificant though.

There are about 70,000 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, many of which could be prevented by avoiding overexposure to UV light.

BUT not all sun creams are good for us

So, if I’ve convinced you to think about your skin this year, maybe you’ll follow a few simple bits of advice.

Right the first one is simple... - Use sunscreen.

Crikey - this is all a bit obvious isn't it? I'll be telling you the best way to tie shoelaces next!

Sunscreens contain chemicals that absorb harmful rays from the sun (the UV or ultra-violet rays).

Each sunscreen is rated by their sun protection factor (spf) - and of course the higher the rating, the better the protection.

But here's a little calculation that explains the spf that I thought was interesting...

Let's say it takes 10 minutes for you to get sunburnt without any protection whatsoever.

If you use a sun cream with a spf of 5, it will take you 5 times as long to get sunburnt, which means you'll be okay for 50 minutes.

Use a sun cream with a 15 factor, and you'll be okay for 150 minutes.

So, a higher sun factor doesn't mean you're getting stronger protection, just longer protection.

That's how I understand it anyway.

So, if you're out in the sun and you assume you'll burn in 10 minutes, you can figure out how often you should reapply the slap depending on the sun factor you're using.

- Beware the UVA rays...

Don't assume that choosing any sun cream with a high spf will do the whole job. The spf rating only applies to UVB rays.

To make sure you're giving your skin the best protection, make sure the sun cream you choose contains substances that have the power to block a broad spectrum of harmful rays.

These don’t have to be harsh chemicals though, they are readily available from natural sources – click here to find out more

- Don't grill yourself...

You don't need to rush out into the sun at its hottest to get a tan... your skin will burn even when the sun is hiding behind the clouds. So try and stay covered up while the sun is at its highest point between 11.00am and 3.00pm.

- Don't skimp...

Most people apply too little. Cup one hand and fill it up, use then repeat. That should sort out an average adult.

- Don't wait until you go out to apply sun screen...

Put it on at least 30 minutes before you go out to give it time to soak into the skin and work its magic. Also remember to re-apply after you've been swimming or even if you've been kicking a ball about with the kids, because the sweat will wash the sunscreen away.

- Special care for babies...

Children are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of sunlight, so make sure they're fully protected before they try and bury daddy in the sand. Babies under 6 months of age should never be exposed to direct sunlight and young children should always have a high spf applied - no exceptions.

Also, good old common sense often comes to the rescue and knocks heads together, so remember...

Sunshine is a GOOD thing. It lifts our spirits and gives us a vital dose of vitamin D, which protects us against heart disease, bone disease and, ironically, cancer.

So don't lock yourself away during the summer months fearing the reaper.

BUT - don't go thinking sunscreen makes you invincible. Be sensible, and limit your exposure to the sun. 

Recent news about skin cancer – magic drugs again!

Of course, no week would be complete lately without a new revelation about the power of drugs.

This week is no exception.

I read that researchers in Aarhus University in Denmark had discovered that Aspirin, Ibuprofen and other Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s) could reduce the risk of skin cancer...ho hum.

Is it me being hypersensitive at the moment or are we being subjected to a never ending stream of miracle news about simple drugs?

Maybe I should stop looking for a hidden agenda, but experience has taught me that this type of revelation will quickly be discredited.

The absolute simple way to prevent skin cancer is to be sensible about how often we expose our bodies to the sun – and when we need to we should slap an appropriate sun screen on.

Story and end of methinks!

Yours, as always












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