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It pays to play it safe in the sun…and the stakes are big. The sooner children learn this, the better they will be in the long run. “A sunburn may be the most obvious consequence of getting too much sun, but it could be the least of the problems that results,” says Joshua L. Fox, M.D., a dermatologist at North Shore University Hospital at Glen Cove. “Excessive unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays (ultraviolet radiation-UVR) may be linked to the future development of melanoma and other types of skin cancer, and also leads to premature aging of the skin-early wrinkles and sagging and unattractive spots and discoloration.”
. Unprotected skin can be harmed by UVR in just 15 minutes.
. The risk of developing melanoma and other types of skin cancer is related to the cumulative amount of UVR a person receives.
Teach your children The value of good health habits now and for life
While children may not be the most captive audience, they stand to gain the most from practicing proper sun protection habits. It’s estimated that at least 60 percent of lifetime exposure to the sun occurs by age 18 years. “Not only is cumulative sun exposure associated with development of melanoma and non melanoma skin cancers, but just one or two severe blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence may increase the risk for melanoma in adulthood,” notes Michael Dannenberg, M.D., Chief of the Division of Dermatology at Huntington Hospital. “Melanoma, the most serious cancer that occurs in the skin, is very dangerous. And, disturbingly, its incidence has been increasing rapidly-among young adults, too.”
But here’s the bright side: Skin cancer is preventable. There are effective and easy ways to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. And you and your family do not have to shun the sun entirely or miss out on a beautiful summer day.