Protect Yourself from the Summer Sun

Summer is upon us, which means lazy afternoons, trips to the beach, swimming lessons, bike rides, and BBQ's with the kids. Sounds alluring, relaxing, and just what you could use right now, right?

Personally, I can't wait for the day trips to the shore and the afternoons at the pool, as the warm weather season allows the family to come out of hibernation. It is a nice contrast to being shuttered inside with the kids, just trying to come up with one more way to keep them busy that doesn't destroy the house.

But I was reminded of the perils of the season this week as I lay on the dermatologist's examining table while she scraped out a suspect mole: the fifth one I have had removed in the last 4 years. While a welcome pleasure to me just about every day, the sun produces rays that are classified as known carcinogens by the federal government. You don't mess around with the sun. (Ask my husband, who scoffed at my sun paranoia until being diagnosed with melanoma himself last year).

The incidence of skin cancer has increased dramatically over the last three decades, and its prevalence continues to rise. Though the survival rate is high for those that detect the disease early, there is no proven treatment for late stage melanoma.

There is some good news, though. This week there was some exciting news shared on the cancer front, most notably with melanoma. Research published by The New England Journal of Medicine shared advances with a drug, ipilimumab, that is nearly 30 years in the making. It is a drug that essentially copies human antibodies in order to ward off cancer. Experts consider it a major breakthrough.

Of course, preventing skin damage should be anyone's first course of action. Enjoy the outdoors, but do it only after protecting yourself and your children. Wear hats, UPF clothing and sunscreen. Then revel in those short months when being outside is as delicious as curling up underneath a blanket will be come winter.

Photo by manuere.

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