With summer just around the corner, many are looking forward to soaking up the rays, and baking their skin to the perfect shade of bronze. But it is important to remember the dangers of the sun.
On the superficial level, sunbathing is the most cosmetically damaging thing we can do to our skin, even beyond the effects of smoking (however, doing meth can also ruin your skin). "Up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun" according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It causes premature wrinkling, age spots (also called sunspots, liver spots, lentigo simplex and senile lentigines), uneven skin tone, depletes collagen in the skin, causing it to appear loose and saggy.
Lets not overlook the greatest danger of sun exposure, cancer. Allow me to share a shocking and tragic story of a young man whose life was cut short by skin cancer. (WARNING: This story includes an image that may be troubling for some)
Marine Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez served his country for almost ten years, also completing a tour of duty in Iraq. The country he loved so much to risk his life for, repaid him for his service with outright medical negligence, which resulted in his highly preventable death.
Upon enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, Rodriguez received a routine medical exam. His doctors diagnosed a blotch on his buttock as melanoma but never told him, and the military never followed up. Over the next eight years, the melanoma continued to grow until, while serving in Iraq, Rodriguez had it examined again. This time, he was told that it was just a wart and that he should have it examined upon returning to the U.S.
Tragically, by then, it was too late, and Rodriguez died 18 months later from skin cancer, holding the hand of his seven-year-old son. His once-buff physique had been whittled down to less than 80 pounds in 18 months by stage 4 melanoma.
Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez was 19 years old when a military doctor first noticed the melanoma (but failed to take any action in order to treat the cancer or even to notify Rodriguez of his diagnosis) on his right buttock. At 29 years of age, Rodriguez succumbed to his illness.
People often associate skin cancer with the elderly, young Caucasian girls who abuse tanning beds, the fair skinned and freckled redheads. This was a young man of Hispanic dissent. He was, young, fit, healthy, and far from what is commonly associated with any risk factor for skin cancer. (I am choosing not to address at this time the horrifying negligence on the part of the U.S. military. That is a different topic, reserved for a separate article)
Some quick facts about skin cancer:
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United states.
- Every year 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
I hope I have changed some minds out there about sunbathing.