REDUCE SIGNS OF AGING
You know it when you see it— whether in the mirror or on the face of a friend—and, unless you take the proper precautions, no one is immune to the damaging effects of the sun. Visible signs of aging include wrinkles, redness, discoloration, blotchiness, and brown spots.
Maybe you’ve still got young, flawless skin and think you have plenty of time to develop better skincare habits. Plus, for all the times you’ve already baked in the great outdoors, you’d surely show signs of sun damage by now, right? Not so fast. Sun damage is cumulative—an occasional hike sans sunscreen isn’t going to give you instant wrinkles—but failing to protect skin in the early stages can lead to more dramatic issues down the road.
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the sun damage to a 69-year-old truck driver’s face—on the left side, where the sun hits while driving. The physical examination showed a gradual history of skin thickening, wrinkling, and accentuated ridging spanning nearly three decades of consistent exposure; the researchers determined this likely resulted from chronic exposure to UVA rays, which can penetrate glass. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicated that regular sunscreen use slows skin aging in healthy middle-aged men and women, showing that those who used sunscreen on a discretionary basis (i.e., only some of the time or when they remembered) had a 24 percent increase in lines and wrinkling at the end of the four-year study. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States—and new cases are increasing from year to year. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 1 in 5 Americans will develop some type of skin cancer in their lifetime; the estimated risk for developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is 1 in 50.
Those who are most at risk are Caucasians and men older than age 50, but skin cancer does not discriminate. For example, melanoma incidence rates are higher in women than in men before age 45—and, in fact, melanoma is the leading form of cancer for young adults—but rates are twice as high in men compared with women by age 60. Plus, even though it’s less common for dark-skinned individuals to contract skin cancer, it can be more severe.
The rates of melanoma have been increasing steadily for the last 30 years— which is a pretty good indicator that the incidence of skin cancer isn’t about to plateau.