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10 Smart Ways to Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk

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3. Learn the truth about UVA and UVB rays.

3. Learn the truth about UVA and UVB rays. "For years, we thought UVB were the only kind of rays we had to worry about," says Susan H. Weinkle, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of South Florida. But now experts know that while only UVB is responsible for burning, UVA is a major problem too. Like UVB, it causes premature aging -- think sun spots and wrinkles -- and increases cancer risk, but UVA is actually scarier than UVB in the sense that there's no visible short-term way to gauge how much of it we've soaked in; only time will tell.

These days, most sunscreens are made with UVA-absorbing chemicals (such as avobenzone, octocrylene, oxybenzone, and a new one, Mexoryl), but not all of them contain these. And buyer beware: The phrase "broad-spectrum sunscreen" can be misleading -- sometimes it indicates that a product will prevent you from soaking in the full spectrum of UVB rays only. Don't buy it unless the label says it protects against both UVA and UVB.

One last frightening fact about UVA: Unlike UVB, they can easily penetrate car windows, according to a report recently released by the Skin Cancer Foundation. So protect yourself during road trips just as you would at the beach -- or get your glass professionally treated with UV-protective film. (Check the Yellow Pages under "glass tinting" or "glass coatings" for a dealer near you.)

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garfieldmlogan wrote:

My wife always carries around a big tube of sunscreen with her fashion beachwear. I think it's kind of funny, but she's always the most stylish one at the beach!

7/12/2011 04:02:03 PM Report Abuse

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