Catherine Hackney, 18, of Atlantic City, and Gigi Guida, 17, of Ventnor, N.J., sunbathe on the beach in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, June 9, 2006. Image Credit: AP Photo/Mary Godleski
This summer, when you sit out at the beach with that slightly blue glow and think you have done your best to beat back the negative effects of the sun ... guess again.
Not all sunscreens are created equally. One with a high SPF rating, say in the triple digit range, may protect you from sunburn (and maybe give your skin the look of Michael Jackson) but do little to protect you from the cancer the sun can give you.
Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -
Sunscreens faulted on cancer protection
By LINDA A. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer - Thu Jun 15, 6:06 PM ET
Think slathering on the highest-number sunscreen at the beach or pool will spare you skin cancer and premature wrinkles? Probably not, if you're in the sun a lot.
That's because you don't need a sunburn to suffer the effects that can cause various types of skin cancer
Sunscreens generally do a good job filtering out the ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn — UVB rays. But with sunburn protection, many people get a false sense of security that keeps them under the harsh sun much longer. That adds to the risk of eventual skin cancer — both deadly melanoma and the more common and less-threatening basal and squamous cell cancers.
And most sunscreens don't defend nearly as well against the UVA rays that penetrate deep into the skin and are more likely to cause skin cancer and wrinkles. That's true even for some products labeled "broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection."
Experts say the best protection against UVA is a sunscreen that includes zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone. Consumers should also look for those that are water-resistant and have an SPF of 30 or better, indicating strong protection against UVB rays, and apply liberally and often.
Often, product labels are confusing or bear misleading claims. For example, the SPF, or sun protection factor, refers only to defense against the less harmful UVB rays.
"I don't think people understand they're only getting protection from part of the spectrum," said Dr. Sandra Read, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "You're accumulating this damage and you don't know it."
Maybe Michael Jackson has it right ... stay indoors, in your room, out of the sun, away from people so that the sun does not know what you are doing.
I suppose you can always wear a hat and long sleeves.