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Choosing the Right Sunscreen: Don't Get Burned

Choosing the Right Sunscreen: Don't Get Burned
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By    |   Sunday, 28 May 2017 03:21 PM

It’s that time of the year again when many folks turn lobster red after a day of fun in the sun. And that’s a recipe for potentially deadly melanoma, say experts. But with so many sunscreen products on the market, choosing the right one can be a challenge.

“Sunscreen alone is not the magic bullet, “Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group, tells Newsmax Health. “But it’s a good start. The problem is that many people are confused about what are the best protective products to buy.”

According to the EWG’s Sun Safety Campaign, skin cancer is the most common form of all the cancers in the U.S. Rates of new melanoma cases have tripled over the last 40 years, and yet many Americans still believe it cannot happen to them.

Fewer than one in three adults report using sunscreen frequently, and according to a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even fewer say they routinely seek shade, wear a hat, or cover up with long sleeves when basking in El Sol.

Just in time for Memorial Day, the EWG has released its 11th annual guide to the best sun protection products on the market. The nonprofit advocacy group tested more 1,500 items and found that about three-fourths of them offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients that could be carcinogenic or cause skin damage.

You can visit the guide at EWG Website to see how your favorite product ranks or to find the best alternative for adults and children.

In addition, the EWG offers these tips to protect yourself against skin cancer:

Avoid spray sunscreens. They may seem to be easier to apply on squirming kids than lotions or creams, but they pose serious inhalation risks, says Dr. Kenneth Beer, a Palm Beach dermatologist. “Would you want to put sunscreen in your lungs?” he asks. “I wouldn’t use them at all,” the University of Miami professor tells Newsmax Health.

Avoid super high SPFs. SPF stands for sun protection factor and refers only to UVB protection not the damaging UVA rays of the sun which penetrate deep into the skin, suppress the immune system, accelerate skin aging and could cause cancer. The EWG recommends sunscreens with a 50 SPF and reapplying often. You don’t need the super high 100 SPF products because they offer a false sense of security. “You still need to reapply the product at least every two hours,” says Lunder.

Don't buy products with oxybenzone. Commonly used in sunscreens, this chemical gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body which could lead to serious health problems. You are best off with a mineral-based sunscreen containing titanium or zinc oxide. We now have products that are slightly tinted to blend more easily with your skin tone.

Steer clear of retinyl palmate. When used in skin cream, this form of vitamin A is supposed to have anti-aging effects. But on sun-exposed skin, it can speed the development of skin tumors and lesion.

Take care with bug sprays. Avoid combining sun screen and bug repellant combinations. Bugs aren’t usually around during UV exposure peaks and you need to apply sunscreen more frequently than repellant. In addition, skin care experts advise against using repellants on your delicate facial skin.

Choose "broad spectrum" products. Always choose a sunscreen that offers a “broad spectrum” of protection for both UVA and UVB rays. Select 50 SPF for outdoor safety and 30 SPF for everyday use. “And don’t rely on moisturizer or makeup to provide enough sun protection even if it has SPF built in,” says Lunder. “Remember that you need to reapply sunscreen to be effective.”

Other tips to keep you safe in the sun include:

  • Wear protective clothes. Shirts, hats and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays, reducing burn risk by 27 percent.
  • Plan around the sun. Go outdoors early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky.
  • Find shade or make it. Picnic under a tree or take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade, reducing the risk of multiple burns by 30 percent.
  • Sunglasses are essential. They aren’t just a fashion accessory; they protect your eyes against UV radiation.
  • Check the UV index. The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA offers a free UV Index App for Smartphones
  • Don’t get burned. “Red, sore blistered skin means you’ve gotten far too much sun,” says Lunder.

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Skin cancer is the most common form of all the cancers, with rates of new melanoma cases tripling over the last 40 years. Sunscreen offers your best protection, but with so many products available, how can you be sure you're picking the right one?
sun, screen, skin, cancer
Sunday, 28 May 2017 03:21 PM
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