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Every morning I turn on my radio to hear Environment Canada's UV ratings for the day. Now that summer is upon us the readings are 7-9 with the warnings to cover up and use sun screen.

I did some research and found that we humans have depleted the ozone layer in the atmosphere: there seems to be a hole above Antarctica. The average size of the ozone opening is bigger then North America . It seems that 75% of the ozone layer has been lost due to us humans polluting the environment.

Big deal you say, If it don't hurt why should we care. It has been a long winter. We all have been looking forward to catching a few rays and chilling out on the beach .
What is wrong with a nice bronze tan? Bo Derek started the trend many a sun- ago and she looked absolutely sensational frolicking in the surf.

Wait a minute; it seems that exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancer and causes damage to the DNA in the skin cells.

Continual exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancer due to the cumulative damage to the DNA. & suppression of the immune system.

When I am in doubt I look for help/advise. I called London's own, Dr Lyn Guenther, Professor of Dermatology, UWO. She is the past President of the Canadian Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Editor of Dermatology Times of Canada & heads up the Guenther Research Centre.

The Doctor has some suggestions for avoiding skin cancer.

Reduce the sun's exposure when it is at it's peak between eleven and four. Try and seek shade- an umbrella/parasol helps. Long sleeved shirts, trousers, a "Tilly" hat and two gloves when playing golf can make a difference.

Try and wear lose, tightly, woven dark clothing-Jeans absorb the light and protect the skin. Baseball hats do not cover your ears/back of your neck.

Wear sun glasses that filter out UVA/UVB rays to protect your eyes from cataracts and retinal problems later in life.

Convertibles and sun roof equipped cars allows the sun's rays to burn your thinning scalp.

Remember to use broad based spectrum sun screen when out in the sun. The sun protection factor (SPF) should be at least 30 . Make sure that you apply adequate amounts - 1 ounce. The lotion degrades with time and heat exposure. Check out the best before dates.

If you have an allergy to sunscreen pick a physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and or titanium oxide. Physical sunscreens are safe for all ages including babies. Baby strollers should be equipped with a canopy to block out the sun rays. Please remember to make sure that your child is properly hydrated to prevent hypothermia.

Avoid sun tanning parlours. They do not protect your skin. Ultraviolet rays hurt your skin. The World Health organization has listed UV as a carcinogen and does not recommend the use of tanning parlours for people under the age of eighteen. A tan indicates that you have damaged your skin which is trying to protect itself from injury.

Getting a bronze look has consequences. Over time you can look forward to your features becoming leathery and wrinkled. Lots of "brown liver spots" with the prospects of expensive cosmetic surgery as you age.

Check your moles in the mirror monthly to see if there has been changes in colour /shape, or size If you are concerned see your physician asap to have a biopsy. Skin Cancer is more common then any other form of Cancer. Basal Cell Skin Cancer has been increasing by 5% a year in North America.

The sad statistic shows that 75% of people will develop skin cancer in their life time. Melanoma can kill you.

The staff at the Guenther Dermatology centre are all pale. They protect themselves from the sun The desire for a tan quickly fades when you see/ care for people with skin cancer.

Take the time to care for yourself and your family. You have the factual information from Doctor Lyn Guenther who is one of Canada's most esteemed Dermatologists. Please do not become another Cancer statistic.

This report was printed in the latest edition of 'Mum and Caregiver' http://www.themomonline.com/themomandcaregiver.aspx

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com