Spread the Health

Think Before You Fry

This summer, make a pledge to protect your skin so you don’t look like this guy.


Most guys and gals are focused on looking fit for the summer, which usually includes getting their tan on. Maybe you have a natural love for the beach (or the artificial lights of a tanning bed), but the truth is that tans are not the best for your skin’s wellbeing.

The National Cancer Institute tells us that “sun-protective behaviors” (i.e. using sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing, and seeking shade) are lacking among adult and teens. In fact, less than half of college-aged students “usually” or “always” protect themselves from the sun [1].

Protecting yourself from the sun’s UV rays is so important. Seriously.

  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with more 2 million people being diagnosed each year
  • In the last 30 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other types of cancers combined! [2]

@BUStudentHealth But which sunscreen do I buy? There’s so many! #overwhelmed

Ah yes, the usual consumer’s dilemma: you’re in the sunscreen aisle and have no idea which to choose! Well luckily the American Academy of Dermatology came up with this simple and ridiculously helpful guide to sunscreen use [3].


How to Avoid Skin Cancer, Early Aging, and an Unattractive Sunburn [2]

Wear protective clothing and accessories. Maybe not the ideal summer wardrobe, but even sunglasses and a hat can help! Check out these fashion tips for rocking the floppy beach hat.

Seek shade when you can remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is also prime beach time, so take extra precautions by bringing a big umbrella!

Be extra careful when you’re near water and sand as they reflect the sun’s damaging rays and can increase your chances of sunburn.

Stop using vitamin D as an excuse for getting too much sun. Many foods are fortified with vitamin D and eating them won’t cause skin damage!

Go for a healthy glow with self-tanning lotion.  Oprah weighs in on her favorite picks here. It will give you a nice glow without increasing your risk of cancer or damaging or wrinkling your skin.

Every year, check your body! If you notice anything growing, changing, or bleeding on your skin, no matter how big or small, make an appointment with a dermatologist. The Skin Cancer Foundation provides a step by step guide to doing self-examinations of your skin, so check it out!

On a personal note, I recently returned from a semester abroad in Sydney, Australia without a tan. I took the proper precautions in the land down under of no ozone layer. My future self will thank me for being pale, and still beautiful, all summer long!

SPREAD THE HEALTH: By using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and accessories, and seeking shade during peak sun hours you will reduce your risk of skin cancer and chances of early aging. Lather up!


[1] National Cancer Institute. Cancer Trends Progress Report—2009/2010 Update: Sun Protection. http://progressreport.cancer.gov/doc_detail.asp?pid=1&did=2009&chid=91&coid=911&mid=#trends

[2] Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin Cancer Facts http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts

[3] American Academy of Dermatology. How to Select a Sunscreen http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/general-skin-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-labels/how-to-select-a-sunscreen

[4] American Academy of Dermatology. Sunscreen FAQ http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens#.UZ48cZWQunk

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