Sunscreen on My Shoulders
sun bathers Swimsuit, towel, sunscreen ... you're ready for a fun, and safe, day in the sun. Or are you?

While sunscreen is important, experts warn that avoiding skin cancer requires a combination of sun-smart strategies. In fact, research suggests that sunscreen use alone fosters a false sense of security, actually increasing melanoma risk by encouraging people to spend too much time in the sun (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 1998, vol. 90).

To bask in safety, follow these guidelines:

  1. Limit or avoid exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun's rays are most intense.
  2. Wear a shirt and a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
  3. Lather on sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) on all exposed areas of skin; repeat after swimming or perspiring heavily.
  4. Consider supplements. Surprising new research indicates that supplementing with natural mixed carotenoids and vitamin E may help skin resist UV damage (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, vol. 71). "While this may suggest a new idea in sun care for the many sun worshippers out there, it's important to note that these supplements must be taken along with the use of sunscreens," notes Ronald Watson, Ph.D., professor of public health research at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

— E.B.