Certain foods and sunscreen are the key to avoiding a future with skin cancer

Certain foods and sunscreen are the key to avoiding a future with skin cancer

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's starting to feel like summertime outside and as the rays shine down, the risk of sunburn rises.

Doctor Anatole Karpovs stresses the importance of sunscreen.

Although shade is a good alternative to avoiding sunburn, Karpovs says between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm are when people are most prone to skin damage. "The sun is directly overhead and so the UV rays come directly through the atmosphere and can cause the most damage between those times," Karpovs says.

Karpovs also says there's no such thing as waterproof sunscreen and it should be applied every one to two hours. "15 to 50 ideally 30 SPF is one of the best."

And even the sunscreen with the highest SPF, doesn't mean you're getting the best protection. "The SPF number doesn't always correlate to what the protection is so it's important to reapply it's better to add more rather than less."

Karpovs says foods such as broccoli, berries, avocados and certain fish can help in the healing of the skin. "Studies have shown anti-inflammatory dietary patterns can prevent and reduce skin cancer over a period of time," Karpovs said.

Doctor Karpovs adds no one is immune to skin damage from the sun and sunscreen should be worn by everyone if out in the sun.

Dr. Karpovs Quick Guide to Sun Safety

  • Outdoors time is healthy time. People who spend more time outdoors tend to live longer, healthier lives for a variety of reasons. So don’t shun the sun!
  • You do want to avoid painful and damaging sunburns in your children, so be prepared for the outdoors, especially in high-risk areas such as the beach, the pool, or if there’s no access to shade.
  • Level 1 in protecting your children from sun damage is healthy food. That’s right! Eating a proper diet will help your skin heal from the damage of the sun. A proper diet is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables and low in junk food and animal fats. Studies show regularly that dietary patterns can affect your chances of getting skin cancer so teach your children to eat the right foods.
  • Level 2 in protection from sunburn is limiting direct sun exposure. Sunburn risk is worst during the peak hours of the day when the sun is nearly overhead. In the summertime, this occurs from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During those times, either stay indoors or in the shade.
  • Level 3 is appropriate clothing and covering. Long sleeve, breezy clothing can give some protection. Also wear brimmed hats to protect your ears, nose, and neck. Your eyes can also get sunburned (Ouch!) and damaged so wear sunglasses as well.
  • Level 4 is sunscreen. Sunscreen can be very effective but has some drawbacks too, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are protected from skin cancer just by wearing sunscreen. Here are some tips to make your sunscreen choices safe and effective:
  1. Use SPF (Sun Protection Factor) between 15 to 50. Too little SPF will not protect you enough while too much adds cost and chemicals with very little added protection. I typically recommend 30.
  2. Use lotion rather than spray on sunscreen. Spray sunscreens do not protect your skin as evenly as a lotion, and the misted particles can be inhaled and irritating to your child’s respiratory tract.
  3. Look for labels with broad-spectrum or UVA and UVB coverage. Both types of UV radiation cause skin damage and UVA has been linked to skin cancer.
  4. Apply sunscreen 20 min before getting in the sun. Err on the side of more sunscreen as that increases the protection. Reapply every 2 hours. When swimming, use a product that is water resistant. There is no such thing as “waterproof” when it comes to sunscreen so reapply regularly.
  5. Avoid products that contain insect repellant and sunscreen. They are less effective. Use a separate product for insect repellant and apply it before the sunscreen.
  6. For chemical safety, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX are relatively safer for topical use than oxybenzone products. I recommend looking at active ingredients to limit exposure to oxybenzone.
  7. Also stay away from lotions that contain Vitamin A. Vitamin A is healthy when eaten in fruits and vegetables, but lotions containing it appear to cause more harm than good in studies evaluating safety.
  8. Safety of sunscreen and sunblock is not established for infants less than 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends use in babies younger than 6 months only if prolonged sun exposure is unavoidable. The risk of sunburn is worse than the risk of the lotion.

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