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VA Maryland Health Care System's Summer Health Tips
Date:6/15/2010

cancer risks, and their effectiveness drops when under-applied, meaning that a sunscreen with an SPF label of 100 performs like one with a SPF of 3.2, and a SPF 20 rating drops down to a 2.3, etc. Also scientists say SPF claims above 50 aren’t reliably substantiated. Moreover, sunscreen products aren’t regulated, so some existing products overstate claims about performance and offer inadequate UVA protection.

Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going out into the sun, and then reapply every 2-3 hours- or sooner if sweating or if going in the water (even if it says it’s waterproof!).

-   What to avoid and what to look for in a good sunscreen?

Avoid: Avoid ingredients such as Oxybenzone Vitamin A, which is a retinyl palmitate,(listed in 41 percent of sunscreens) added insect repellents, sprays, powders and SPF above 50+

Use: Products with zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX in creams. Water-resident products with broad-spectrum protection are great for the beach, pool and exercise and look for SPF 30+

-   What to do before applying sunscreen?

Avoid getting burned: Red, sore, blistered, then peeling skin is a clear sign of too much sun. Sunburn increases risk for skin cancer.

Use clothing: Shirts, hats, caps, shorts, pants, shield skin from the sun’s UV rays. Instead of coating the skin with goop, a long sleeve shirt is more effective.

Use shade: Take advantage of shade trees, umbrellas and canopies. Sunglasses are a must to protect eyes from UV radiation which causes cataracts.

Plan ahead: Go outside in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky, rather than in the middle of the day when the UV peaks around midday and when the sun is directly overhead.

To speak to dietitians at the

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