Sun Safety Myths
Now that the snow is gone (at least for the time being), getting outdoors and basking in
the sun feels like just what the doctor ordered. But, it’s important to remember that too
much sun exposure can lead to sun damage, even if you think you’re protected. Harmful
ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage skin cells, appearing in the form of a
tan or sunburn, and resulting in not only wrinkles and dark spots, but also an increased
risk of skin cancer.
Ensure you keep yourself protected from the sun and don’t fall victim to believing any of
these sun safety myths:
Sunscreen will protect me from sun damage
Many people think that slathering on a nice layer of sunscreen will allow them to stay
out in the sun longer without risking damage. While sunscreen is effective, it’s not a
protective shield, and should be used as your last line of defense.
Tanning isn’t that dangerous
Tanning puts you at risk of skin cancer – that golden-brown glow everyone lusts after is
evidence that you’ve had more sun exposure than your body needs, which puts you at
risk. Tanning is a slower form of damage to your skin – it’s a low-level burn and an obvious sign of skin trauma.
I’ve never had a sunburn, so I’m not at risk
Fair skin or not, any sun exposure predisposes you to skin cancer. That goes for any
sun exposure during your childhood, tan included. If you’ve ever had a blistering
sunburn at any point in the past, your risk for skin cancer is even higher.
I need sun for vitamin D and bone health
In order to get an adequate amount of vitamin D for your bones, you need just a few
minutes of sun exposure a day on a small section of your forearm. In most cases,
vitamin D deficiency is not related to sun exposure. If vitamin D deficiency is a concern
of yours, you should speak to your doctor about supplements.
I don’t need sun protection when it’s not summer
Although the highest UV radiation in Canada occurs between April and October,
prolonged sun exposure on a bright winter day could potentially cause damage. Believe
it or not, it’s also possible to get a sunburn on a cloudy day, so make sure you plan
ahead and protect yourself year-round.
How do I protect myself?
Avoid the sun at peak times (between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM) if you can help it and
avoid prolonged sun exposure. Wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs.
Wear sunglasses and/or a wide-brimmed hat and stay in the shade as much as possible
during outdoor activities.