You probably know that unprotected sun exposure increases the risk of premature aging and skin cancer. But did you know that this doesn’t just apply to teenagers? Without realizing it, you may be doing long-term damage to your skin through several small doses of sun exposure, even in your middle-aged years. No matter how old you are, these small amounts can add up, and the consequences are often detrimental. Many suffering from skin cancer and premature aging wish that they had been more consistent with sun protection.

Sun protection is important in all stages of life, yet many middle-aged individuals fail to follow this recommendation. Perhaps this is due to the misconception that our skin is only susceptible to sun damage while we’re young. Science doesn’t support this notion, however. A study published in Annals of Epidemiology found that getting a sunburn at any age affects an individual’s risk of developing melanoma,¹ the most serious form of skin cancer. Needless to say, cancer dampens quality of life and puts substantial stress on families. Considering that skin cancer is largely preventable, it’s a shame that rates are still so high.

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Skin cancer isn’t the only subject of concern; signs of premature aging can dampen quality of life and impede confidence. After spotting the first signs, like discoloration and wrinkling of the skin, it can be tempting to give up on sun protection. However, individuals of all ages are encouraged to use sun protection – especially considering the fact that not all anti-aging products live up to their claims. By continuing to use sun protection, we can prevent signs of premature aging from getting worse. In fact, one study found that daily application of sunscreen in individuals 45 to 55 years old can prevent photoaging.²
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To combat skin cancer and premature aging, we should continue to monitor our sun exposure even beyond young adulthood. No matter your age or skin type, Sun Index will let you know when you’re exceeding your safe sun time. It’ll also let you know what types of sun protection to use, and when to use them, depending on your personal skin type and location.

  1. Dennis, L. K., VanBeek, M. J., Beane Freeman, L. E., Smith, B. J., Dawson, D. V., and Coughlin, J. A. (2008). Sunburns and risk of cutaneous melanoma, does age matter: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Ann Epidemiol 18(8): 614-627. Retrieved January 23, 2017
  2. Hughes, M. C. B., Williams, G. M., Baker, P., and Green, A. C. (2013). Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med 158(11):781-790. Retrieved February 27, 2017