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Take It From Me: You Want to Be SunWise on Don’t Fry Day and Every Day

2010 May 28

Back in the 60’s, in efforts to help heal a skin condition, my family doctor advocated a high level of sun exposure and UV treatments. Thinking that the sun could only help improve my condition – there were many intentional sun exposures, skin burnings/peelings, convertible top-down rides and sun lamp exposures. Fast forward about 25 years! The sun/UV exposure therapy started to reap negative benefits in my late 40’s – the generation of keratoses started and continued well into my 50’s. By my late 50’s – the crown jewel of skin cancer manifested itself. When I had my skin checked by my dermatologist, he urged me to have a biopsy of a suspicious darkened skin patch on the side of my forehead. Three days later I remember getting the call at work from my dermatologist – “It’s a melanoma and you have to get it out – fast!” My life immediately was placed on hold for three weeks until the surgery. With support and guidance from my wife Marisa, who was an oncology nurse, along with my dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon – the melanoma was removed successfully.

Since that time, I have become an advocate for what I call “sun sense” – especially for young children and adults. Our schools need to take sun safety seriously and run programs designed to make students aware of the damaging effects of the sun – encouraging “sun sense.”

sunwise_logoTo help foster this action, I have written several safety columns in cooperation with my dermatologist for science teachers on how to help students understand the causes, risks and preventative actions needed to help prevent skin cancer – especially at their young age. EPA programs like SunWise and the public health campaign of Don’t Fry Day also help spread the word about this ever increasing problem.

My own lifestyle has changed dramatically as a result of dodging this bullet. I am always searching the Internet for mainstream and alternative health actions to try and help rectify the damage done to my skin. With semiannual skin inspections by my dermatologist, juicing key fruits and vegetables, supplementing with Vitamin D, smart UV clothing, sunscreen and more, I attempt in earnest to reduce and repair damage done as much as possible. In addition, I remain vigilant and missionary in helping to get the word out there – covering up is good sun sense!

Learn how to do full body scans at: www.aad.org/public/exams/self.html

About the author: Dr. Ken Roy is a melanoma skin cancer survivor. He is known as the “safety marshal.” He is an environmental health and safety compliance officer for a public school district in Connecticut, safety consultant and author/columnist worldwide. He is a staunch advocate for what he calls “sun sense.” As part of his advocacy and protection, he wears wide brim western-style hats – thus the “safety marshal” persona was created!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Laurie Leigh permalink
    May 28, 2010

    I am of the light skin and hair variety and spent much of my youth with olive skinned or darker people in my community (the exotics) and tried to catch up by tanning any way I could. I suffered the burns, the peeling, the fever. Even tanning booths have enjoyed my thorofare. I wish someone would have told me back then what we know now. The Tan is never worth the chemo. Thank you for this site. I sent it to folks I work with and my family as a reminder. Cheers to a great summer. It’s hot here in Anchorage!

  2. Charles Schwartz permalink
    May 28, 2010

    Thank you for your e-mail pertaining to exposure to too much sun. I wish you and yours a very safe and happy “Memorial Day” . Sincerely Yours, Charles Schwartz .

  3. armansyahardanis permalink
    May 28, 2010

    Many excellent words be given to the sun: sunrise, sunshine, sunlight, … The sun is miracle and much helping the human in this planet before, now and the future. It’s useful and making us survive, but people complain it, like, for example, skin cancer and another problem. Sun not wrong and also us. So, who ? Constellation of the universe, include the Earth. Finally, all of that results good or bad…..

  4. Steve Schafer permalink
    May 29, 2010

    It’s amazing how science changes things. I remember how when I was growing up people would say things like, “you look so pale. You need to go out and get some sun!” People would associate a tan with being healthy. I think some sun exposure is needed for proper vitamin D absorption, but very little, and certainly not to the point of risking melanoma.

    Steve

  5. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    May 31, 2010

    I am 54 and grew up in the 1960s, too. Back then, everyone–doctors, parents, teachers–all said sun exposure was good for us and that staying out of the sun was a bad thing to do. So I remember how sunburned we used to get. Today, we know how wrong the older generation was back then on issues of sun-sense. But back then we didn’t know and the adults didn’t know. What we know now about how bad the sun can be came later. Now we pay for what we didn’t know with an epidemic of skin cancer. I have also had several cases of skin cancer but all were the kind that are easily treatable. I now use long sleave loose fitting shirts, sun screen, hats, and long legged loose fitting pants. Back in the 60s getting sun burned and getting tanned was a part of summer, but they should not be any more. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  6. John Kingston permalink
    June 24, 2010

    There are some skin cancer prevention steps which are proven to work here
    http://www.skindermatologist.net

  7. Will Murray permalink
    August 4, 2010

    Wearing hats when you’re outside provides excellent sun protection. Hats with close-weave material that blocks more than 97.5% of UV rays. UPF 50+ are ideal such as the Safari Mesh Hat

  8. Kevin Megan permalink
    September 16, 2010

    I think because the ozone had a hole already

  9. May 14, 2012

    The sun is important for promoting good health if kept to moderation. Like many things that are “good” for us, they can end up being “bad” for us if used to excess. The sun is no different!
    The skin is such a vital part of our body make-up and therefore I like alternative Ayurvedic medicines like Radiancio which revitalizes our body and in particular the skin.

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