Staying safe in the sun

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At the Y with Stacey Coombs

Sunshine has a bad reputation for being damaging to our health. Overexposure of UV rays can cause burns, premature aging, and skin cancers.

Sun protection measures include limited exposure, shade, protective clothing, and sunscreen.  Sunscreen remains the most popular type of protection. After a long, cold winter most of us would like to have as much sun exposure as possible; so shade is not an option. Therefore, sunscreen remains the best option for many of us.

Sunscreen is designed to be applied to our skin to protect us from damaging UV rays. Sunscreens are rated on their sun protection factor (SPF).

All sunscreens are regulated as drugs in Canada and must meet a certain number of criteria to be sold.  A Drug Identification Number (DIN) or Natural Health Product Number (NPN) ensures a sunscreen is approved by Health Canada.

The best sunscreens will be at least SPF 30, cover a “broad spectrum” of UV protection, and have a CDA (Canadian Dermatology Association) label. As long as you are applying enough of the product (approx. two tablespoons for the entire body) the protection should be the same for all types of sunscreen.

For the sunscreen to be effective, make sure you apply 15 minutes before sun exposure. Make sure you reapply sunscreen after swimming or heavy perspiration.

The sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Take special attention during these hours to ensure proper protection. The sun also has positive health effects; it produces warmth, enhances people’s moods by providing Vitamin D3 and also kills pathogens. The summer months provide us a much needed break from the winter. The warm summer sun should be enjoyed while it lasts.

As Jimmie Davis said, “sunshine is a welcome thing. It brings a lot of brightness.”


Stacey Coombs is a membership services representative at the YMCA Association of Cumberland. At the Y appears bi-weekly in The Amherst News.


Organizations: Health Canada, Dermatology Association, The Amherst News

Geographic location: Canada

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