Should you stay out of the sun as National Stay Out of The Sun Day is today (July 3)? According to cancer specialist Dr Hugo De La Pena, no! Yet you should be respectful and careful in the sun!
Dr Hugo De La Pena, is an oncologist with PhD in Cancer Genetics and Tumour Immunology from the University College London. He is one of the few people in the world who belong to the ‘Golden Triangle’ – named for those who have studied and trained in the three most important universities in the UK – London, Cambridge and Oxford.
He was the chairman of the Cancer Research International for several years, during which time, he established collaborations with Harvard, Cambridge, London and Edinburgh universities to help Mexican and Latin American students achieve their international goals and opportunities.
He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) in 2022 as a mark of excellence and works with the British National Health Service, as well as an ambassador for renowned organisations such as Cancer Research UK. And this month we are marking the 75th anniversary of the NHS in the UK.
So, with that track record, working with cancer, and melanoma being the 17th most common cancer in the world, why would Dr Hugo say no to staying out of the sun?
Because, the benefits of sunlight are monumental! He says just feeling the sun on your face, gives you a few seconds of inner peace, and the sun has great benefits for our mental health.
9 Tips for sun safety from Dr Hugo
- Don’t get exposed to the sun, when you are not meaning or wanting to be exposed. E.g. if on a long drive in the sun, if you have the window open, with your arm resting on the ledge, driving for hours, that arm, and the side of your face exposed to the sun can get burnt. If you go to an event outdoors in the summer – a music festival, a football game, Wimbledon etc – you can be standing or sitting in the same location for a long time add get exposed to the sun without realising. Therefore, always carry sun block whether you will need it or not. To be on the safe side – put it on, just in case.
- If you’re out and about with friends, in the sun all day, especially when you’ve been drinking, you can become careless. So, designate someone in the group to be the ‘sun cream nagger’ who every two hours reminds you to put on sun cream again.
- When you are in an outdoor swimming pool or the sea, even if your sun cream is waterproof, it won’t last as long as it would if you weren’t swimming. The problem is that when the sun hits the water, that reflects back on you, plus you are also getting a hit from the sun itself. So, instead of every 2 hours when you swim, re-apply every hour. Again, get someone to remind you.
- Pay double the attention you would normally to children out in the sun. When basking in the sun to get a tan, make sure they put sun block on regularly, or sit in a shady spot, or under a large umbrella. It is up to you as the adult to keep an eye on them – they won’t think about it.
- If you take toddlers swimming or at the beach, they should wear sun suits that cover most of their body, as they are particularly vulnerable to the sun.
- Artificial tanning ‘sunbeds’ are forbidden for the under 18s in the UK, because the link between skin cancer and sunbeds is proven, so also try to discourage older children from using them.
- Cancer doesn’t discriminate over skin colour, but there is no doubt that if you are fair ski you are more at risk, and if you have lots of little freckles, take extra care, because you are at most risk.
In the sunshine – sun block, shade and a hat are your best friends. You can find out more about Dr Hugo, who is also a professional motivational and educational speaker here – https://www.drhugodelapena.com
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