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Years Later, Unprotected Exposure to Sun Can Be Damaging
07/27/2009

CLEBURNE, Texas — We all need some sun exposure. It's our primary source of vitamin D and makes us feel good. But too much unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, and even cancer.

Most of the more than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related, according to the American Cancer Society. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounted for more than 8,300 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In the short term, a tan might make you look good,” said Dr. Mike White, a physician at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, “but later in life you can begin to see the damage. The UV light damages the elastin in your skin which will cause skin to sag, stretch and to bruise easier.”

Nothing can completely undo sun damage, although the skin can sometimes repair itself. So, it's never too late to begin protecting yourself from the sun.

Follow these tips from the American Cancer Society:

  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protector factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Be sure to apply every two hours or more if you are swimming or sweating.
  • Limit direct sun exposure during midday. UV rays are most intense during the middle of the day, usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps. The UV rays given off can cause long term damage.
  • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increase your chances of developing eye disease.
  • Cover up with clothes. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through. Dark and tightly woven clothing is best.
  • Some people are more at risk of damage from UV light. Check your family history for skin cancers. Check once a month for irregular moles and freckles and changes in the pattern of your skin.

If you suspect something unusual, consult a physician. For more information, visit cancer.org or cdc.gov.

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne is a 137-bed acute-care, full-service hospital that has served Cleburne and the Johnson County area since 1986. The hospital’s services include surgery, women’s services, urology, orthopedics and ear, nose and throat care. Texas Health Cleburne, an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, has been recognized with the 2007 Premier/Carescience Select Practice National Quality Award. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Cleburne.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 14 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, and Texas Health Presbyterian, and an organization for medical research and education. Texas Health Organization for Physicians and Texas Health Physicians Group provide a variety of models for engagement with physicians. Texas Health Partners is a joint venture development and management company owned by Texas Health Resources. Texas Health MedSynergies is a joint venture that offers physicians a range of office management and other business services to support their practices. Texas Health is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.

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