S is for Sunburn and Skin Cancer

One of the things I have NEVER understood is the appeal of lying in the sun for the sole purpose of lying in the sun; seemed like a waste of time. Going swimming or playing a sport or working on a sunny day, that was OK.

As it turns out, while there is some benefits from the sun in terms of absorption of Vitamin D, the downside of too much sun is quite great.

* “Exposure to sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our faces.” Years ago, visiting my sister in Southern California, I vividly remember seeing this woman at her church. Deep tan, presumably attractive, but her skin looked like shoe leather.

* “Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of all cancers in the U.S. and the number of cases continues to rise. It is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. This rapid growth results in tumors, which are either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).”

Think those tanning beds are safer? Not according to the US Federal Trade Commission, which notes that claims such as “Get a beautiful tan indoors without increasing your risk of skin cancer” or “Indoor tanning is safer than the sun because the environment is controlled” are myths. In fact, “compared with nonusers, the risk for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma increased by 15 percent for every four visits made to a tanning booth per year; the risk for melanoma increased by 11 percent.” High school and college-aged folks are more vulnerable than those 25-34.

Personally, I always wear hats, even on overcast days. The trick with this winter that wasn’t in the continental US – March was more than 8 degrees F, about 3 degrees C, warmer than normal, more like April – so while it cut down on our heating bills, it also had me needing to get out the sunscreen much earlier. While my face has darkened somewhat from its vitiligo lightest, my hands and other parts of my body will still burn as though I were a red-haired Irish schoolgirl.

So what song should I finish with? Beatles? Sheryl Crow? Bill Withers? Nah, someone I actually saw perform at my college, Jonathan Edwards singing Sunshine.

ABC Wednesday – Round 10


35 thoughts on “S is for Sunburn and Skin Cancer

  1. I so agree with you. While I enjoy reading a good book outside on a beautiful day, or swimming in the summer, I HATE just sitting/lying in the sun…maybe it’s a bit of ADD, but I just cant seem to do it.

  2. Roger I absolutely LOVE you doing this post, since I’m a melanoma survivor. I had a very deep nodular melanoma that spread to my lymph nodes. My chances of surviving 5 years were very slim due to the fact that it was so deep and had already spread to the lymphatic system when I was diagnosed. I am now 7 years out from my lymph node dissection (LND) without a recurrence and I get scans and am followed closely by an oncologist and dermatologist. My health has been shot since then due to a number of side effects after the LND and other issues which are autoimmune related and may be the reason I haven’t had a recurrence (my body has mounted its own defence). Having gotten to know many melanoma patients some with a similar situation to mine who had it spread to brain, lungs, and other place who have died, I am definitely very lucky. Anyway your post was SUPERB. Carver ABC-Wed. Team

  3. Years ago my parents had a cabin at a lake and we spend every weekend in the water, sorry to say in the 1950’s and 60’s we really were not aware of all the affects of the sun. Now I do take care and use plenty of sun lotion and wear hats. Great post for S.

  4. I can manage around 15 minutes lying in the sun before I have to get up and do something. I’d read, but I find the glare from the printed page too much unless I hold the book in my own shadow which defeats the object, unless I wanted a suntanned back.

  5. I had a bit of a scare recently when a spot appeared on the bridge of my nose. I was sent immediately to a dermatologist, who said he didn’t think it’s cancerous or even pre-cancerous, but just stay out of the sun. But I’m keeping an eye on it, believe you me! I was a sun worshiper in my youth and now I can see I should have been more careful. It could be worse, but it could be a heck of a lot better, too! This is a post that everyone should definitely read! Thanks Roger!

    abcw team

  6. I am very fair and have strawberry blond hair. I just have to think about going out in the sun and I burn, which I did much too much as a youngster. We didn’t have the sunscreen or the knowledge of how dangerous those rays were to our bodies when I was a kid.
    Fortunately I haven’t had skin troubles.
    Your post is a definite reminder to be careful and slather on the slippery goop.

  7. A very important post, especially this time of year. I had a scabby mark the size of a penny on my ankle that seemed to appear out of nowhere and would not go away. It turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma. Luckily, it was not melanoma but it was cancerous. A topical cream eventually removed it but the imprint is still there. I have had loved ones die of cancer. The dangers of too much sun and even tanning beds cannot be overstated.

  8. As I was raised in Indonesia , I know quite well that it is better not to stay too long in the sunshine. The reason that people like sunbathing is that they want to have a dark brown skin, but now they run a risk of getting skin cancer because of the diminishing ozon layer.
    Wil , ABC Team.

  9. Excellent post, Roger. My mom was a major sunbather while I was growing up. She has had a few precancerous spots removed in the past few years, so I am always worrying everytime I see a blemish on her face. My husband and older daughter have red hair and the complexion to go with it, so they have to be even more diligent than most people because they burn in minutes.

  10. Working nights, I absolutely adore sitting in the sun every chance I get. But, I also find it exhausts me if I stay too long. Too long can be 15 minutes. Sigh.

  11. We are exposed to the year all year long and most people are obsessed in whitening products to lighten the skin, and not getting a tan.

  12. Lying in the sun is not on my list of things to do, but nevertheless I’m sure I have absorbed my share of sunshine as an orchardist and farmer.

  13. Sagacious advice, Roger. I Spend a lot of time outdoors, and though I never Suntan, I also neglect my Safety at times. Your post Scared me. I will remain Sang-froid, but will take Steps to wear a hat and use Sunscreen more often.

  14. It’s quite the reverse in my part of the world: dark-skinned Asians would love to have white skin, lol. I remember that tanning mom lately on the news.

  15. Dear Roger,
    The sun can be very dangerous if all we want is just a tan. I think skin cancer is on the top of the list? Great post my friend.

  16. I’d forgotten about that song Sunshine – I love it! I laid in the sun when I was a kid but sure regret it now. I never leave the house with sunscreen.

  17. We do live in a culture that thinks Tan is beautiful. Cancer is not! I tan quite easy with olive skin, and dark eyes….but I’m aware of the risk of sun bathing as I have several friends that have skin cancer, and some that have had them removed several times.

    I hadn’t heard that song for years….but that is really a good rendition and I liked that it had the words, since I don’t hear that well the lyrics of some Utubes.

    Thanks Roger.

  18. I agree with you, I don’t like to lay in the sun and play “roasted chicken” I prefer laying under a tree or an ombrella and read a book when I am on holidays.

  19. A good reminder going into summer. I was one of those teenagers who used baby oil in the summer at the pool! Now I use sunscreen and don’t have the luxury of being poolside except on vacay!

  20. One of the things I have NEVER understood is the appeal of lying in the sun for the sole purpose of lying in the sun; seemed like a waste of time.

    I am SO with you on that! I don’t remember ever hearing any warnings about the sun when I was a child, but now that I live in New Zealand, which has the highest rate of melanoma skin cancer in the world, I hear them all the time. All kids here are taught the mantra, “Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap”: Slip on a long-sleeved shirt (or into the shade), slop on some 30+ SPF sunscreen, slap on a wide-brimmed hat and wrap on sunglasses. Schools also have shade sails over their outdoor playground areas to keep kids safe.

    I bought that “Sunshine” song on 45, btw.

  21. How about “I’ll follow the Sun”? I know dozens of those leathery skinned Southern Californians. They were once envied because of their tan, but now….

  22. Rog, you know I lived in two different tropical places during my musical career (PR and Bermuda) and those places taught me a very real respect for the sun and its damage. Tourists would routinely fry like lobsters. And now the tanning beds, which are the single stupidest idea since the leaf blower… I wear sunscreen on the tips of my ears, at the top, just in case. I’m not counting on my Black Irish darkness to save me. Excellent post! Amy

  23. i believe that our skin can get traumatized when exposed to the sun to quickly and for too long such that it gets burned. i like to lie in the sun and acclimation my skin to the new season such that i will not come to a point in time when i have to be in the sun too long, and i end up sustaining traumatizing burns. that’s why i like to lie in the sun.

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