Sounds like it should be the British national anthem doesn’t it but there is a more serious side to ‘catching some rays’. For nearly a decade now, the medical profession has been warning the public about the dangers of exposure to UV-A and UV-B light from the sun. The ultraviolet light causes changes in molecules in the skin causing the ubiquitous sunburn but it can also cause changes in cells making them cancerous. In 2011, nearly 12,000 cases of skin cancer were diagnosed in the UK with just over 2,000 people dying from the most serious type – melanoma.
Scientists have warned that the greatest risk is to children and young people whose skin is unused to UV radiation and that burning of children’s skin raises the risk of skin cancer more than tenfold. Today, you’ll rarely pay a visit to the beach without seeing toddlers wrapped head to toe in UV protective clothing and a cap. Those that don’t wear the expensive outfits are often slathered in thick white factor 50 or more sun lotion and so our young people are now carefully protected putting the medical profession’s minds to rest. Or has it?
Since the sledgehammer approach to preventing burning hit the headlines and the beaches and any other outdoor environment, other, potentially more serious problems have raised their ugly heads. Rickets was a disease of the 18th and 19th centuries where children were forced to live and work in conditions where they rarely saw sunlight and received little vitamin D through their diets. The disease caused deformities and softening of the bones, often leading to fractures and disability. Now, the disease is making a comeback thanks to our overenthusiastic approach to child welfare. In Edinburgh, one GP saw more than twenty cases of the disease in 2011. Another potential problem is the incidence of SAD or ‘seasonal affective disorder’ a depressive illness believed to be caused by lack of exposure to sunlight.
So who is right and what is the solution?
As with all things in life, moderation is the key to the issue. Doctors are now recommending that we use sun cream but don’t go for the highest factor, let children play outside early in the morning or late in the afternoon without protection and just be aware that if their skin is reddening, get them to cover up. The same advice goes for adults too. Many of our customers rent conme/18.0.1025.162 Safari/535.19 h the roof open in blazing sunshine in hot countries then wonder why they look like beetroots. Be sensible and stay cool, closing the roof and using the air-con when it’s hot. If you’re taking your hire car to the beach, put the sun cream on before you leave, for few people realise that the creams don’t work instantly, they need to be on the skin for up to twenty minutes to be effective.
Summing up the advice, it all boils down to being careful but balancing that with common sense and you’ll enjoy your days in the sun, even if in the UK there still ‘Aint No Sunshine’!