Let the sunshine in ... safely
When the musical "Hair" launched the song "Let the Sunshine In," it was 1969, and no one was thinking about the risks of over (or under) exposure to solar rays. These days, we know a lot more about the dangers and benefits, but increased knowledge doesn't always translate to increased self-care.
Around 3.6 million cases of basal cell carcinoma and 1.8 million cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed annually in the U.S., and about 106,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2021. Melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, is over 20 times more common in white people than in African Americans. But it is more often diagnosed at a late stage in people of color -- one study found an average five-year melanoma survival rate of 67% in Black people versus 92% in white people.
This is all a preamble to our advice on sunscreens: Use only zinc or titanium oxide (dodge dodgy chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule); opt for SPF of 30 or more -- whatever your skin color; and reapply sunscreen every two hours if you're out in the sun, sweating or swimming.
It's also smart to let the sun crank up your body's vitamin-D-making powers. The vitamin/hormone (it's both) boosts immune strength, helps reduce the severity of COVID-19, strengthens bones and protects heart health. So enjoy the feel of sun on your unprotected skin for up to 20 minutes a day (except between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., when the rays are strongest); then put on sunscreen.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.