Photo: Robert Neff/flickr
Photo: Robert Neff/flickr

With summer now upon us and hot days ahead, it is essential that you remember to protect yourself against the sun and its potentially harmful UV rays. Experts agree that everyone needs some sunshine for the production of healthy vitamin D, but catching too many rays can also have negative consequences. This is why the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) is providing some tips to help you decrease dangerous exposure to the sun, all the while still enjoying the nice weather.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays – composed of UVA, UVB and UVC radiation – pose the biggest threat to the public and can even be given off by artificial sources like tanning beds. These rays are strong enough to get through clouds, fog and haze, and exposure to them can be heightened when around water, sand, and concrete.

“Increased exposure to UV radiation, both from natural sunlight and tanning salons, is a major cause of the increase in skin cancer including melanoma – one of the fastest growing and deadliest form of skin cancer worldwide,” says Dr. Manish Khanna, Director of Dermatology Oncology at the JGH. “In recent years we have seen a significant and alarming rise of the number of cases of melanoma, as well as with other diseases linked to sun exposure. It is therefore essential that the public reduce their exposure to harmful UV radiation to protect themselves and their families.”

An important tool in protecting oneself from the damaging effects of the sun is the UV Index – a measure that shows the strength of UV radiation from the sun at any given time. The index can range from 0 (at night) to as high as 11 or 12, and can be even higher in the tropics or at high elevations under clear skies. The higher the UV Index, the greater the dose of skin and eye damaging UV radiation and the smaller the time it takes before damage can occur.

Before heading outside, it is important to ensure you and your family is protected from the risks associated with prolonged sun exposure. Cover up with sunglasses, a hat and loose fitting clothing, seek shade whenever possible, wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 whenever outside, avoid direct sunlight between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. as this is when the sun is strongest, avoid tanning beds and salons and lastly, be aware of the UV index in your area.

June 25, 2014