We just returned from South East Asia where we used a lot of sunscreen because it was usually around 30 degrees and sometimes around 40 degrees. Eschia.

So, I really took notice when I read that a study by the US Food and Drug Administration found it took just one day of use for common sunscreen ingredients to enter the bloodstream at high levels. Whew.

But, experts are adamant that we should keep using sunscreen, at least until studies are done to see what the effects of the absorption are. Right now, all we know is that the ingredients are being absorbed, and the sun is the real enemy here.

I totally agree that sunscreen use is important. One time we went to Cuba and I got red dots all over my feet. The doctor at the resort said that this happens to some people’s capillaries who are over fifty when they walk in the hot sand.

He gave me an antihistamine and said to put sunscreen on my feet but to keep my feet out of the sun and out of the sand. I started wearing socks and of course my sister-in-law asked me why I was using socks with my sandals. I told her why.

She said, “Let’s see your feet.” I said okay, but only if she promised not to laugh. She swore up and down she wouldn’t laugh, so I showed her my feet, which looked like I had red socks on. She laughed so hard she couldn’t speak.

When she finally stopped laughing, she said, “Roy, please put your socks back on!”


Safety tips
Seriously, the Government of Canada website says skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types and about one third of all new cases of cancer in Canada are skin cancers. To boot, the rate continues to rise.

They recommend that when the UV index is three, or higher, we should use sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant” with an SPF of at least 30. Yes, 30, so throw out that bottle of 15 SPF and get proper protection. He he he.

They also say we should protect our skin as much as possible by wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts, pants and a wide-brimmed hat. Sunglasses should provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

And, stay out of the sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the UV index can be three or higher and always take an umbrella to the beach. Where you can take off the protective clothing and put on protective sunscreen.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a healthy tan, so using tanning equipment is a no-no. It damages your skin and increases your risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Definitely not cool.

Benefits of using sunscreen
Sunscreen helps shield us from harmful UV rays, which lowers the risk of skin cancer. This is especially important today, with the depleting ozone layer putting us at a higher risk from the harmful effects of UV rays. Well ya.

It prevents sunburns, which can cause repeated attacks of peeling, swelling, redness, hives and itching. A recent study suggested that getting many sunburns could actually put you at a higher risk of lethal melanoma. Whoa!

Sunscreen also prevents tanning and remember the Government of Canada website says no tan is healthy, although it looks healthy. Sunscreen also shields your skin from developing age spots and wrinkles.

So, use sunscreen this summer and bring it with you when you go out, or you might get burned.

A redheaded woman I worked with was very fair. She went fishing with her boyfriend and soon after they left, their sunscreen fell in the water. They were out fishing all day and when she came to work on Monday, she looked like a lobster.

Her face was all red and actually looked cooked. She said it hurt to talk, smile and even to eat. Ouch!

And, it’s not only fair skinned people who need to use sunscreen. I know several dark-skinned people who have gotten sunburned after being in the sun for a while. And it didn’t take that long either.

So, enjoy the long sunny days, but be sure to keep using sunscreen … for now.


Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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