Most everyone loves the sun. Bright light invigorates and helps boost your mood. Unfortunately the sun has some downsides, too. Spending a lot of time outside without taking precautions can lead to health problems.
We are programmed to think tans are a good thing. Pick up most any edition of a women's magazine published in the summer and you will see an article on how to get a healthy tan. Talk to any doctor at a south Chicago hospital and you will hear how unhealthy a "healthy" tan can be. Skin cancer is the most common cancer, and 85% of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. Basil cell carcinoma looks like a smooth, raised bump which some people think is a sore that will not heal. It is the most easily cured of skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma resembles a red, scaly patch and is the second most dangerous skin cancer. Melanomas are the rarest but most dangerous form of skin cancer. They are often dark in appearance. A mole that changes size or appearance might be a melanoma that needs to be checked out.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer amongst young people. Wilmington Illinois hospital workers can tell you that this is in part due to the widespread use of tanning beds. Teens and young adults use tanning beds in part to look better and in part to feel better. Recent studies have shown that people who use tanning beds can become addicted to them as if they were a drug. Users report increased feelings of well-being after using the beds and depression if they have to miss a session. There is some talk of enacting legislation to limit tanning bed use, but education is probably a better choice. Advances are made every year in sunless tanning that enable you to get the sun-kissed look without the UV damage. Young people need to know as well that too much sun now can lead to increased wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of aging at earlier ages than if they avoided UV exposure.
The sun's main benefit is in helping the human body produce Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential in helping the body absorb calcium which is needed for strong bones. While Momence Illinois hospital workers will tell you vitamin D is important, you need to balance the benefits with the risks. Many food products, particularly dairy items, are fortified with vitamin D. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna, eggs, and mushrooms are good sources as well. While there is no consensus on safe sun exposure, research seems to indicate you can get all the vitamin D you need from sunlight with only 10-30 minutes of sun exposure a week. If you plan to spend more time than that in direct sunlight, you should use some form of UV protection. A shot glass amount of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen can provide adequate protection from the sun's dangers. More sunscreen will need to be applied every few hours or after spending time in the water. Another option is to buy clothing that has built in sun protection.
If you are concerned about your skin cancer risk, you can make an appointment to talk to a doctor at Riverside Medical Center. Their south Chicago hospital, Wilmington Illinois hospital, and Momence Illinois hospital locations make is easy to get healthcare in the area south of Chicago.