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June 30, 2007
by Annet King, The International Dermal Institute

In spite of two decades of aggressive public information campaigns about the dangers of exposing the unprotected skin to the sun, skin cancer incidence continues to rise in the USA. Although skin cancers are not restricted to fair-skinned Northern European types, reported cases continue to climb in the Anglo-Celtic derived populations of Australia, and even my native UK, where it rains a lot (must be all of those holidays in sunny Sardinia and Greece that Londoners love!).
In any case, the evidence is striking. In the U.S. over one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year; in the U.K., the number of reported cases has doubled in the past 20 years. Non-Aboriginal Australians have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.My opinion is that people place too much faith in the blocking power of sunscreen technologies nowadays. No product, regardless of its claims, gives you license to fry. Don’t do it! If you’re at the beach, in the snow, etc., do your best to go indoors at midday, especially if your skin is compromised in any way.
If you’re out in the noonday sun, be generous with your solar defense product— don’t try to save your tube of face-block for next year. Use it! And here’s the real news: you need to use sun protection products every day, even when you’re indoors, unless it is literally pouring rain. The newest studies confirm that UV rays penetrate glass. This means that our skin is vulnerable to sun damage even when we are indoors, even when we are inside our automobiles. In fact, many Southern Californians (I live and work in Los Angeles these days) have far more pronounced hyperpigmentation, moles, wrinkling and visible sun damage on the left side of the face, since they sit in traffic so much, and the driver’s side (and window) are on the left side of the vehicle.
The best defense, in addition to moving to the shade and using block products faithfully, is self-awareness. Watch your skin for changes, and see your dermatologist annually—sooner if you observe new growths on your skin. Check yourself monthly, and develop an understanding for what a healthy mole looks like (yes, there definitely is such a thing). When in doubt, check with your MD. And when you are exposed to the sun, cover up with a broad-brimmed hat, substantial fabrics (sun goes right through the light, gauzy stuff), long sleeves and long pants.  Make sure that your kids are protected as well; preventing childhood sunburn is the best insurance for avoiding skin cancer later on.
Visit for products to protect you from the sun. 

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