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Summer Sun Safety: Myths vs. Facts About Skin Protection 

Summer! There’s nothing quite like lying down by the pier, swimming in the lake, laughing with your friends, and… getting an awful sunburn? 


Sun safety should be at the top of everyone’s list when enjoying the great outdoors. Misconceptions about sun protection can lead to harmful practices and increased risks of skin cancer. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the different types of skin cancer and debunk common myths that may be putting your health at risk. From the importance of sunscreen to the dangerous realities of indoor tanning, we’ll provide you with the facts you need to protect your skin effectively.  


It’s time to make sun safety a daily habit for healthier, happier skin! 



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TYPES OF SKIN CANCER


Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma: Most cases are of these two types, which progress slowly and are rarely fatal. Surgery can remove them. However, they're still a concern as they can cause scarring, disfigurement, or loss of function in parts of the body. 

Malignant melanoma: Accounts for only 5% of skin cancers but often occur earlier in life and progress rapidly, making them the most likely to be fatal. 




 

DEBUNKING COMMON MYTHS

 

MYTH: Sunscreen itself causes skin cancer and is dangerous to your health.  

FACT: The consensus amongst health professionals is that all the benefits of using sunscreen (protection against harmful UV rays, skin cancer, and premature aging) far outweigh any potential risks (which remain to be scientifically proven).  

 

MYTH: Skin cancer only affects older people.  

FACT: Even though adults aged 50 and older have higher rates of skin cancer, accounting for 80% of all cases, younger people are still at risk. Many skin cancer cases result from tanning and poor sun safety practices from earlier years, so protecting your skin early and consistently is vital. The risk of melanoma doubles for a person who has had more than five sunburns. 

 

MYTH: Indoor tanning beds are safer than sunbathing.  

FACT: Tanning beds are just as harmful as the sun, if not more dangerous. A comprehensive systematic review found that the risk of melanoma is increased by 20% for those who have ever used tanning beds. Additionally, using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 59%. 

 

MYTH: Wearing sunscreen puts you at risk for vitamin D deficiency. 

FACT: Even though sunscreen blocks some of the sun's ultraviolet B rays, which are needed for vitamin D production, most people don't apply enough sunscreen to entirely block the rays. As a result, they are not at risk of vitamin D deficiency. If you're worried about this, you can increase your vitamin D intake naturally by consuming foods like fatty fish (salmon is a good source), or you can talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement. 

 

MYTH: Sunglasses are just for fashion purposes. 

FACT: When the sun shines brightly, sunglasses aren't just a fashion statement - they also serve an essential purpose. UV rays from the sun can cause or accelerate the progression of several eye diseases. Before purchasing sunglasses, check the label for the type and percentage of UV protection they offer. 

 

MYTH: Some sunscreens are waterproof. 

FACT: No sunscreen is entirely waterproof. Some are "water-resistant," but only for up to 40 or 80 minutes. To maintain protection, it's essential to reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating. 


References

 Boniol, M., Autier, P., Boyle, P., & Gandini, S. (2012). Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 345, e4757. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4757 

‌Cancer Care Ontario. (2021). Skin cancers increasing among adults. https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/cancer-facts/skin-cancers-increasing-among-adults 

Harvard Health. (2018, July). The science of sunscreen. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-science-of-sunscreen 

Health Canada. (2023). Sun safety basics. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/sun-safety/sun-safety-basics.html 

‌‌Skin Cancer Foundation. (2024, February 6). Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics. https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts/ 


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