Natural Solutions - - Natural Radiance -

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.

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