1 Simple Habit for Wrinkle and Cancer Prevention

From an anecdotal standpoint, the fact that my wife has yet to have a single wrinkle at the age of 34 has made me a believer in her sunscreen routine. She has developed a habit of protecting her body’s largest organ, her skin, by applying sunscreen to her face after showering in the morning. A simple, yet incredibly useful, habit that not only reduces her risk of developing skin cancer but also keeps her skin looking oh-so baby smooth.


Wrinkle-Free, Baby-Smooth Skin by Blocking Ultraviolet A and B Rays


Historically, I haven’t paid much attention to the importance of skin protection. As such, I’m developing those age-defining wrinkles. My crow’s feet are faint, but present, my brow often looks furrowed (or so my little niece tells me), and I’m starting to get those smile lines.


After some research, I learned that UV rays have short wavelengths that are not part of the visible spectrum. Although we can’t see them, you can certainly see the damaging effects they have on the DNA within our cells at the macroscopic level.


Types of UV Rays


There are actually two types of UV rays, A and B. UV A rays cause us to tan, burn, and wrinkle. UV B rays play a key role in developing skin cancer. It is important to use sunscreen that is “broad spectrum” because it protects against both types of UV rays.


The most striking example of the damaging effects of UV rays was from an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 2012. [1]



The article shows a photo of an individual that worked as a delivery truck driver for 28 years. Unfortunately, this allowed for damaging UV ray exposure to the left side of his face for nearly 3 decades. The comparison between his right and left sides are striking–offering us fair warning about the damaging effects of UV rays.


Sunscreen Reduces Cancer Risk - Duh!


Protecting your skin not only allows you to age a bit more gracefully, but it also reduces your incidence of developing the 3 most common types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.[ 2]


For those of you who are parents, aunts, uncles, or happen to have little ones around whose well-being you care deeply about, check out this statistic from JAMA Dermatology that applied a mathematics-based model using epidemiological data to evaluate the protective effects of sunscreen for children:


“The potential benefits of using a sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 over the first 18 years of life [may] reduce the lifetime incidence of [developing basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin] by 78%.” [3]


By taking an extra 3 minutes to apply some sunscreen to your little ones, you are able to reduce their risk of developing a minimum of 2 types of skin cancer by nearly 80%! Talk about some serious returns on your time and money.


SPF 100- Is it Worth the Money?


But what level SPF is the best? Theoretically, an SPF of 5 should mean that it takes 5 times more UV exposure to redden your skin. Therefore, an SPF of 30 should take 30 times more UV exposure.


So does SPF 100 mean I will get 100x the protection? Unfortunately, no. Spf 30 blocks 97% of UV B rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%, and SPF 100 blocks 99%. [4] Considering sunscreen prices rise with SPF, an SPF of 30 should be sufficient unless you have very fair skin or an underlying medical condition that predisposes you to skin cancer or blistering. [5] However, it is always best to discuss this with your medical doctor in the context of your own medical history.


Since I’m getting a bit pruney and hope to avoid becoming one of the 1 million Americans who are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, I’ve decided to develop the habit of using sunscreen on a daily basis. [2] Actually, I’ve found it easy to integrate this habit into my daily routine after shaving in the morning. Putting a spin on the age-old mantra: "Sh–Poop, Shower, Shave, Sunscreen."


More Sunscreen = More Smooches...It’s Science


There are a plethora of options to choose from on the market. Sometimes the choices can seem a bit overwhelming. I chose to go with Neutrogena's "Oil-free Moisture with Broad Spectrum SPF 35." I like this option due to its affordability--a price point under $9, and because it is both fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Given that my wife is super-sensitive to products that aren’t hypoallergenic, the above choice ensures that I will continue to get as many smooches as possible from the Mrs for the foreseeable future. Money well spent.


We'd love to hear from you about this topic. What are your favorite sunscreen brands and why?


References:


[1] Gordon, J. R., & Brieva, J. C. (2012). Unilateral dermatoheliosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(16), e25.

[2] Glanz, K., Yaroch, A. L., Dancel, M., Saraiya, M., Crane, L. A., Buller, D. B., ... & Robinson, J. K. (2008). Measures of sun exposure and sun protection practices for behavioral and epidemiologic research. Archives of dermatology, 144(2), 217-222.

[3] Stern, R. S., Weinstein, M. C., & Baker, S. G. (1986). Risk reduction for nonmelanoma skin cancer with childhood sunscreen use. Archives of dermatology, 122(5), 537-545.

[4]https://www.businessinsider.com/do-high-spf-sunscreens-work-better-50-2017-5

[5] Johal, R., Leo, M. S., Ma, B., & Sivamani, R. K. (2014). The economic burden of sunscreen usage. Dermatology online journal, 20(6).

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