NEW YORK (MainStreet) – When we first heard that today was “Don’t Fry Day,” we were horrified. How could anyone go an entire day without eating fried food?
As it turns out, though, the brains behind the “holiday” had a different kind of frying in mind: sunburns. The effort was conceived by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, which hopes to remind people of the dangers of skin cancer on the day before Memorial Day weekend, when many people will be spending extended periods of time out in the sun.
And while most people realize they’re supposed to put on sunblock before going to the beach, they might not think to do so at a barbecue.
So what can you do to avoid frying – and putting yourself at in increased risk of dying? The NCSCP provides some common-sense tips, including avoiding intentional tanning and tanning beds and applying sunscreen “generously.” It also suggests wearing sun-protective clothing like wide-brimed hats and sunglasses.
Of course, not all sunscreens are created equally. The NCSCP suggests using one with a sun protection formula (SPF) of 15 and up, whereas the American Academy of Dermatology prescribes a minimum of SPF 30.
While sunscreen comes in many varieties – cream, lotion and spray-on – a recent review of sunblocks by Consumer Reports found no clear advantage of one variety over another. While the full rankings are available to subscribers only, the magazine does give high marks to Up & Up Sport SPF 30 ($8.84 for 12 oz. at Target), NO-AD SPF 45 ($8.49 for 16 oz. on Amazon.com) and Equate Baby SPF 50 ($5 for 8 oz. at Walmart). Whatever sunscreen you get, it should protect against both UVA and UVB rays (the latter gives you a sunburn, the former can penetrate deeper and give you skin cancer).
Wearing the right clothes is also important. White clothing may be better for hot days because it reflects rather than absorbs heat, but the American Cancer Society says that dark clothing provides more UV protection, noting that “If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too.”
Finally, consider getting out of the sun altogether. While we would never recommend spending all summer indoors, do your best to be in the shade or under an umbrella between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their most powerful. And it couldn’t hurt to go see a matinee at an air-conditioned movie theater instead of baking in the sun.
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