Photo Credit: Jennifer Garner at Neutrogena Summit
Climate change and global warming have been on everyone’s mind lately. Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather conditions and superstorms have made believers out of many skeptics.
It really is getting hotter outside. In fact, NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880. This warming affects everything from our stress levels to our risk of skin cancer, according to leading skin health experts speaking at the 2013 Neutrogena Sun Summit in New York City. (The event also included a cameo appearance by Neutrogena Brand ambassadors and actresses Jennifer Garner and Sandra Echeverria.)
Drew Shindell, PhD, a scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies says that skin cancer risk is based on many factors including our exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. “We are exposed to more UV light than we used to be as a result of climate change,” he says.
You are not going crazy if it is starting to feel like Spring comes earlier, and Fall and Summer last a lot longer than they used to, he says. This would be significant in its own right, but there’s more, the O-zone is also thinning. “UV exposure increases by about 33% for ever 20% ozone layer loss,” he says. The end result is about 33% more skin cancers , Shindell says.
Given this perfect storm, It makes sense that New York City dermatologist Doris Day, MD, and others are seeing an increase in skin cancer particularily among young people, even those in their 20s.
Many people are better about using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing today, but certain myths may get in the way of compliance, she says.
This includes the vitamin D story. Many people claim that we are D-deficient as a nation and one of the best and only ways to get more D is through exposure to the sun (vitamin D is known as the sunlight vitamin). But “vitamin D is not an excuse to get tan,” Day says.
Another myth that may burn us is the idea that we need a base tan before a beach vacation. Not true, she says. “There is no such thing as a base tan.”
It is never too early or late to start protecting your skin from the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, this includes:
• Avoiding the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM.
• Not burning.
• Not tanning indoors or outdoors.
• Wearing protective clothing such as a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
• Using a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. Neutrogena’s sun care portfolio including UltraSheer, Ultra Sport and Wet Skin lines, fits the bill. Or you can protect and prep with ZO Skin Health Sunscreen + Primer SPF 30. Lumixyl MoistureLock Sunscreen SPF 30 is an all physical sunblock that also keeps skin hydrated. And the Anthelios sun protection line from La-Roche Posay has options for daily, sun sensitive, and outdoor use.
• Applying 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside, and reapplying it every two hours.
• Examining your skin from head-to-toe every month, and seeing your dermatologist every year for a professional skin exam.