Harvard Health Letter

Be proactive about sun protection

Even when summer ends, you should still protect your skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. And if you haven't heard that before from your doctor, that may soon change. A research review article in the July 2, 2014, Journal of the American Medical Association urges physicians to start speaking up about sunscreen use more often. It cites a recent study in JAMA Dermatology that found physicians rarely counsel people about sunscreen use—even people with a history of skin cancer. The new review suggests that doctors are too busy talking about more pressing issues, such as medication management and the dangers of poor diets, sedentary lifestyles, tobacco and alcohol use, and unsafe sexual practices. But you can be proactive and protect your skin. Every year, skin cancer strikes millions of people in the United States and kills more than 9,000. Sunscreen can help block dangerous UV radiation. So before heading outdoors, even in fall or winter, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or higher, and wear protective clothes, including a hat with a broad brim that covers the ears and back of the neck. Whenever possible, avoid intense sun exposure—usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »