The risks of ultraviolet exposure

sunning on bora bora

Since my early 30s I started wearing sunscreen. (I know, I know, I should have been using it all along.) Here I am in October 2014 soaking up the sun while wearing sunscreen on the deck of our overwater bungalow on Bora Bora.

Since moving to Portland I have noticed a lot of dentists, Goodwill stores and pet hospitals.
There are also a lot of tanning salons.
According to Sperling’s Best Places, on average Portland has 144 days of sun a year. (The U.S. in general has 205 average sunny days.) Current Results estimates Portland to have 142 days of sun a year. (Current Results says Tucson [my hometown] has 284 days of sun a year.)
Some sun exposure is good for our health. From my post on calcium and vitamin D last week I mentioned that according to Medical News Today, it is estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes two to three times per week allows the body the ability to produce sufficient vitamin D.
Living in the Northwest can sometimes make it difficult to get exposure to the sun.
As I mentioned earlier and in posts previously I was born, bred and educated in Tucson, Ariz. As a young teenager my goal during the summer break was to get the best tan possible. I really didn’t wear sunscreen and hardly ever burned. I also used to slather my body in baby oil to toast myself more quickly.
Eeeekkk! I still can’t believe I did that.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan, whether you get it on the beach, in a (tanning) bed, or through incidental exposure, is bad news, any way you acquire it. Tans are caused by harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning lamps, and if you have one, you’ve sustained skin cell damage. … The cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging (wrinkles, lax skin, brown spots, and more), as well as skin caner. In fact, indoor ultraviolet tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
Indoor tanning is not a safe way to get your vitamin D. The CDC says the safest way to get your vitamin D is through what you eat.
The deadliest skin cancer is melanoma. The other skin cancers you can get from any tanning are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (indoor tanning or sun lamps) also can cause cataracts and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma), according to the CDC.
According to an article on Women’s Health, oncologists now believe tanning beds are to blame for the alarming spike among women in lethal melanoma cases–the second most common cancer in adults under 30.
I do love the sun and I love being tan.
But I am mindful of my sun exposure. The first time I ever got really burned was in my early 30s. I was no longer living in Arizona and went to the beach in San Diego. I was surprised that I burned. But it reminded me that I need to wear sunscreen. And I now do.
Sun worshippers, be aware and be mindful of what you are exposing yourself to. I believe we can still enjoy the sun to some extent and remain healthy.