The sea, a beach, and loads of sun - for many people these are the main ingredients of a perfect holiday. A corollary is that the darker the summer suntan, the better.
But with 22,000 new cases of malignant skin cancer a year, experts warn against excessive sunbathing. They urge people to change their thinking and protect their skin well in sunny weather.
'We've got to get away from the false notion that being sun-tanned is beautiful and healthy,' said Eva Kalbheim, spokesperson for Bonn-based German Cancer Aid.
A suntan, she explained, was a defensive skin reaction to produce more of the pigment melanin to protect itself from too much harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Large amounts of UV radiation damage the DNA in skin cells and can even lead to skin cancer. Sunscreen protection should begin during the car trip to the holiday destination.
'UVA radiation (long-wave UV radiation, which makes up most of the UV radiation that reaches the earth from the sun) passes through window glass,' noted Hans-Georg Dauer, a dermatologist from Cologne.
Dauer recommends shades for the car's back-seat windows so that children are not left unprotected.
Kalbheim said that people should avoid exposure to direct sunlight as much as possible.
'You also get a suntan in the shade - it's slower, but healthier,' she remarked. If you are out in the sun, though, you should protect your head and body with close-woven clothing such as cotton.
Children under three years should always be kept out of the sun.
Kalbheim advises adults to stay mainly in the shade during their first days on holiday so that their skin can become accustomed to the high UV radiation.
There are some rules regarding sunscreens too. Dauer said that a sunscreen be it a lotion or spray should be applied 'thoroughly, generously and, above all, punctually - preferably a halfPage: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
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