Steering toward skin safety

By • Published: July 27th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Everyone knows you need to slather on the sunscreen at the beach, but how about protecting your skin when you’re cruising in your car toward the seashore?

A recent Saint Louis University School of Medicine study found that more than half of skin cancers in the U.S. occur on the left side of the body, the side the sun beats on when you are driving. Researchers believe the prevalence in left-sided skin cancers may be caused by exposure to dangerous ultraviolet radiation while driving.

Professional drivers, in particular, need to protect themselves against long-term exposure to UV rays in the car. But even if you don’t spend your workday behind the wheel, commuters and others who spend a lot of time in their cars also need to monitor their exposure to the sun’s rays.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. And a key risk factor for skin cancer is unprotected exposure to UV radiation.

One option for protecting yourself is to cover car windows with transparent window film, which screens out almost all UV rays. Also, remember to apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of fifteen or higher while driving and wear sunglasses with ninety-nine percent to one-hundred percent UV absorption to protect eyes.

And if you have a convertible or sunroof, you may also want to wear a wide-brimmed hat. And here’s why: The Saint Louis University researchers found that more than three-fourths of skin cancers were on the patients’ heads or necks.

So, if you’re headed to the beach or the pool or just have a long ride to work in the morning, don’t forget to smear on a little sunscreen. After all, it could save your skin, and you.