We are midway through summer across the country and temperatures are getting hotter and hotter every day. As runners, we’ve all been warned about heat exhaustion, staying hydrated, and optimal timing of our outdoor workouts – but what about sun exposure?
As a child, I can remember my mom slathering sun screen on my skin every time an outdoor activity took place – a softball game, a trip to the beach, theme parks, etc. At the time, I found it more of a nuisance than anything, but as an adult (and as an Oncology Nurse-hah!) I truly appreciate the valuable lesson my mother taught me: ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN!
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected. They also warn that people often do not apply a thick enough layer of sunscreen, so the actual protection they get is less.
The American Cancer Society also coined a cute phrase that might be helpful to remember when out in the sun for a length of time – “Slip! Slop! Slap!… and Wrap”!
- Slip on a shirt.
- Slop on sunscreen.
- Slap on a hat.
- Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them.
While all four of these items are important individually, when used together they will provide optimal protection from the sun’s harmful UV Rays. Source: cancer.org
The most common form of cancer in the US is Skin Cancer and it accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. Risk factors include for skin cancer (Melanoma and Non-Melanoma type) include:
- Unprotected and/or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (sunlight or tanning booths)
- Pale complexion (difficulty tanning, easily sunburned, natural red or blond hair color)
- Occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium
- You or other members of your family have had skin cancers
- Multiple or unusual moles
- Severe sunburns in the past
2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist Deena Kastor was diagnosed three times with Malignant Melanoma. Taken from her interview with Runners World, Kastor says, “I chalk it up to some weak years around high school, when I was running and wasn’t such a stickler about putting on sunscreen and protecting myself. I’m paying the price right now.” Source: Active.com
While following the ACS Guidelines will help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, it is not a 100% guarantee. ALWAYS take extra precaution when venturing out in the sun. Many companies offer a “Sport” based sunscreen but when choosing sunscreen, read the bottle. Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is best and you should slather sunscreen on at least 20 minutes before you head out so that your skin has time to absorb the lotion. Also, running early in the morning will help prevent exposure.
Next time you are going for a mid-day run or even when having a fun day outdoors, remember
“Slip! Slop! Slap!… and Wrap”!