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Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer

Excerpt from Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health e-Zine
June 23, 2013
Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is caused by the cumulative life-time exposure to ultraviolet light. The more sunlight that reaches your skin over your lifetime, the more likely you are to develop skin cancer. The most effective protection against the sun’s rays is a roof. The second is clothing and sunscreens are a distant third.
Clothing: As a general rule, the thicker the clothing and the tighter the weave, the better the protection. However, when you exercise, thick clothing retains heat and interferes with performance. In hot weather you want the thinnest cloth possible that still provides protection. Contrary to what seems logical, white is not the best color to deflect the sun's rays. The darker the color, the greater the protection. Red, black and blue are the most effective colors in blocking UV-B rays, the ones most likely to cause skin cancers. The darker the shade, the better the protection (Ind. Eng. Chem. Res, 2009;48(22):9817–9822).
Sunscreens: If you don’t keep applying sunscreens when you exercise, your sweat can remove the sunscreen and leave unprotected areas. Then the sunscreen can actually increase your risk for skin cancer by reflecting increased amounts of UV rays into areas of unprotected skin. The safest and most effective sunscreens may be the thick, white, greasy ones that contain zinc or titanium. You can see the white coating that protects your skin, so you can reapply them whenever you see a break in the coating.
The e-Zine is provided as a service. Dr. Mirkin's reports and opinions are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.
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Updated 7/12/2024