Israel Cancer Association issues sun warning ahead of summer

Science and Health

Now that the weather is heating up and people are going to the beaches, taking walks in nature or in the streets, having picnics and being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) urged the public to be “smart in the sun” and protect their skin and health while outside.

The association’s experts note that exposure to the sun’s rays can cause immediate damage such as burns and freckles or long-term damage, such as wrinkles, spots and premature aging of the skin. All of these may lead to precancerous lesions, cataracts and skin cancer. It has been proven scientifically that exposure to UV radiation from the sun or artificial tanning facilities is the main cause of the development of most cases of skin cancer, including the development of malignant melanoma, which is a deadly malignancy.

Multiple sunburns, especially during childhood, pose a high risk of developing melanoma during the course of one’s life, since about 80% of sun damage is caused before the age of 18.

Since babies and children are a population at risk, it is important to protect them. Newborns up to six months old should not be exposed to the sun at all. Babies over six months old should be dressed in clothes that cover the whole body, including a wide-brimmed hat. 

Children should be reminded not to remove their shirts while outside and in the water, where they should wear a bodysuit, preferably a swimsuit with sleeves or a shirt with a dense weave or a fabric that blocks radiation. It is recommended to wear standard sunglasses that filter the ultraviolet rays.

A family sits on the beach. (credit: ISRAEL CANCER ASSOCIATION)

At the same time, one must adhere to all the other safety rules during the Passover vacation, even when they are not under the auspices of their parents, for example, during their stay at summer camps, youth movements and sports clubs. 

Also included in the high-risk group are fair-skinned people whose skin burns easily; people with many moles; people who are exposed to the sun for a long time such as divers, surfers and swimmers exposed to the sun whose skin is wet and absorbs high radiation intensity; those whose relatives have had skin cancer; people taking medications which increase the skin’s sensitivity to solar radiation; people who have undergone organ transplants and receive regular treatment and the elderly, the ICA said. 

How can you stay safe?

Avoid exposure to the sun as much as possible between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., which are the hours when the intensity of radiation is the highest.

Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. For children and babies, it is recommended to apply a preparation with SPF 30 or higher meant specially for babies and children. Apply sunscreen half an hour before leaving the house and again when you arrive at the sea or a place where you are exposed to the sun. The application must be renewed every two hours and it is better to use a product in which the amount applied can be controlled.

As the body sweats and loses fluids on hot days, prevent dehydration by drinking more water.