The Winter Sun Can Fry You
You may be just as vulnerable to dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays on
a ski slope in January as you are at a backyard barbecue in July.
Skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts should realize that
although UV rays are mostly blocked by the atmosphere in the northern
states during winter, sunlight can reflect off snow and water and
damage your skin.
This can lead to prematurely aged skin, wrinkles and even skin
cancer. The face and hands, if left uncovered, may develop brown spots
and red, crusted spots (actinic keratoses), the latter of which can
also turn into skin cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends year-round use of a full
spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun
protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The cancer society also says to
avoid peak sunlight hours -- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- when those UV rays
are most intense.
Also noteworthy is that those who live in states such as Florida
and Arizona, where the sun is bright most days of the year, are two
times more likely to develop skin cancer than residents of Wisconsin or
Minnesota. In these areas, an even higher SPF factor sunscreen is
According to the cancer society, the majority of the 1 million
new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year are sun-related, and most
medical experts agree that not matter where you live, you should apply
sunscreen all year long.