EDITORIAL: The sun’s glorious rays

It’s not hard to notice who’s been taking full advantage of the first tantalizing tastes of summer weather.

It’s not hard to notice who’s been taking full advantage of the first tantalizing tastes of summer weather.

They’re the people with the bright red glow on their arms, their legs, their nose, the back of their neck, the top of their head.

Living in a northern climate where winter rain, snow and grey can dog us for half the year, we’ve developed a fine appreciation for warm sunny days.

When it comes to the weather, it’s often feast or famine; after the famine of a dismal winter, we feast on the first rays of warm sunshine.

But as with all good things like ice cream, you can have too much. Gorging on soft serve might give you an upset stomach, overindulging on sunshine can kill you.

In 2009, more than 75,000 Canadians were diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer, and another 5,000 were diagnosed with melanoma. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Canadians.

Our culture has come to value a healthy glow; it suggests a healthy lifestyle, especially among younger Canadians. But for those born in the 1990s, there’s a one-in-six lifetime risk they’ll get skin cancer, while those born in the 1960s have only a one in 20 lifetime risk.

Awareness campaigns are having some effect. A number of Lower Mainland high schools are promoting tan-free proms to discourage grads from hitting the beach or tanning salon prior to their big night.

When the sun comes out and the temperature rises after weeks of dreary rain and cold, it’s often easy to forget just how strong those rays can be. Working too long in the garden, taking a hike, riding the bike or spending a lazy afternoon on the patio without protection from the sun can have consequences years down the road.

So when the weatherman calls for glorious sunshine, remember to wear a hat, cover those arms with sleeves or slather on some sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.

A little prevention can mean a longer life.

– Black Press