Remember when a bright sun in a blue sky was a call to action? Swimming! Tennis! Lying on the grass! That was before we knew what slathering on baby oil and sizzling all day did to you. But now what to do with the fact that themost common type of cancer in the U.S. is skin cancer and most cases are associated with sun exposure? The short answer is, be smart about it.
"I try not to discourage outdoor activities," says Casey Gallagher, dermatologist at Boulder Valley Center for Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado. "Instead, I tell my patients to always apply sunscreen to their face and hands every morning and plan outdoor activities for the early morning and evening as much as possible."
And when that's not possible, the truth is, there are many ways to protect yourself from the sun's harmful UV rays -- even while you're enjoying its warmth and crucial vitamin D. "My attitude toward the sun is the same as raising kids -- you do the best you can," says David E. Bank, a dermatologist in Mt. Kisco, New York. "I don't harangue patients if they get a little color and they were outside doing fun things. You have to view life as a whole." With that in mind, here's a guide to a safe, sunny summer.
Continued on page 2: Know your sun susceptibility.