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Your Sunscreen May Keep You Cancer-Free and Wrinkle-Free
By Carol LeBeau
8/14/2013 10:22:16 AM


As a kid, I did some pretty stupid things.

When I was six, I couldn’t resist the urge to sneak a taste of the dog’s kibble. (Not bad, actually!) In church one Sunday when I was eight, I stuck a rosary bead up my nose. It took a doctor to retrieve the foreign object that had travelled up my sinus cavity.

Fortunately, those acts of stupidity did no long-term damage. I wish I could say the same about the years I spent stupidly lying in the summer sun slathered in baby oil…working on the perfect tan.

Sometimes there are consequences for being stupid.

As I write this, I can’t help but catch a glimpse of the ugly scar on my forearm from recent surgery to remove a second squamous cell skin cancer from my body. That divot in my arm is a constant reminder of my stupid decision to ignore the experts and, for decades, repeatedly overexpose my skin to the sun’s harmful rays.

Sometimes, there are consequences for being stupid.

But I figure there’s no point beating myself up about it. I can’t go back. Now, all I can do is look forward and come up with strategies that will allow me to enjoy the great outdoors while protecting myself from future sun damage. As you might imagine, I don’t go anywhere these days without hats, sun-protective clothing and lots of sunscreen!

And guess what? My new game plan may do more than protect me from future cancers. The generous coat of sunscreen that’s now part of my daily routine may also help wipe out my wrinkles!

Dermatologists have been telling us for years that using sunscreen regularly can protect skin against aging. Now there’s research to back it up!

In a study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers demonstrated that people who applied sunscreen every day showed 24 percent less skin aging (as measured by lines and coarseness of the skin) than those who used regular moisturizers.

Sunscreen has long been touted as a way to stave off photo-aging, or changes to the skin cause by sun exposure. While it makes good sense, from a scientific point of view, most of the evidence has been anecdotal. There simply hasn’t been hard evidence in humans to support the claim.

Well, no more. The numbers are in and they don’t lie. Routine use of sunscreen saves skin. And if, like me as a foolish, young woman, you’re not motivated to slap on a little sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, then could I possibly appeal to your vanity?

As one study researcher explained, the results have “double significance,” since the reduced skin damage from UV rays also translates to a lower risk of skin cancer. It’s a win-win!

Have fun in the sun, but don’t risk the health and beauty of your skin for the few seconds it takes to slather on a little sun protection. Trust me, the consequences aren’t worth it.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.