Melanoma is one of the scariest, most dangerous things that can come from failure to observe good sun protection measures for your skin, but how much do you really know about it? Sunscreen and general sun-protection measures are vitally important for anyone who spends any amount of time in the sun (even if you live somewhere where it’s cloudy all the time), but there’s just as much misinformation out there as there are valuable tidbits, Vine Vera thought it prudent to clear the air by debunking of the biggest myths about melanoma.
MYTH: Sunscreen can actually cause cancer.
FACT: You may have heard rumors floating around that sunscreen is actually dangerous for causing the very thing it’s supposed to prevent, but actual scientific research shows this to be entirely false. There is nowhere near sufficient evidence to support sunscreen as a cause of cancer. That said, if you’re still paranoid, opt for sunscreens that work as physical blockers instead of the kind that absorb UV rays with chemical reactions. Look for the ingredients “titanium dioxide” and “zinc oxide” on the labels of your sun care products. While there is no link between ANY kind of sunscreen and causing melanoma, and any type of sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher will work as long as you don’t have an allergy, these are especially safe because they are inert, powdered minerals, and simply cause UV light to be reflected off of you.
MYTH: I only need to wear sunscreen in the summer.
FACT: Even on a cold, overcast, gloomy winter day, you should still wear sunscreen. While you may not get a sunburn, going outside during the day without any kind of sun protection will still cause damage, especially overtime, and still raises your risk of getting melanoma later in life. The tiny amount of light filtering through the clouds when it’s overcast is still something you need to guard your skin from.
MYTH: Some exposure to sunlight is good because it helps me get vitamin D.
FACT: First of all, there are much more reliable, safer ways to make sure you’re getting your daily allotment of vitamin D. You can pick up supplements at your local pharmacy (generally available over-the-counter), or drink vitamin-D enriched milk or eat/drink other enriched food product, for starters.
Secondly, the amount of time necessary to spend exposed in the sun varies immensely depending on time of day you go out, your skin type, and where you live, so it’s better to just get your vitamin D from your diet or supplements, and use sun protection all of the time to lower your melanoma risk.
MYTH: People of color can’t get melanoma
FACT: It is true that people of color have a smaller risk factor for melanoma, and that melanin provides some protection from UV. However, it is not enough on its own, and people of color should still use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Further, people of color can be statistically more at risk for especially deadly strains of skin cancer.
MYTH: Tanning at a salon is safe and controlled
FACT: You should try to avoid tanning completely.If you love the look of tanned skin, opt for other options like spray-tans or bronzer. Regardless of whether you get tanned at the beach or in a salon, if your skin reaches the point of getting tanned from sun-exposure, it’s damaged, and that damage will not only make you wrinkle faster later in life, it will also significantly increase your chance of developing melanoma.
Further, studies actually show an increased risk of melanoma from tanning salons, so if you must tan, do it outside. Preferably, though, avoid it altogether and use safer methods to achieve the tanned-skin look you love.