The number of skin cancers I remove off of people under the age of 40 is alarming.  Granted, there are many factors that can influence the development of skin cancer (genetics being among them), sun exposure is by far the one factor we have some control over.  Let me be blunt:  Chronic sun exposure without protection will invariably lead to some form of skin cancer or at least pre-cancer.  Not to mention wrinkles, blotchy skin, early cataract formation….the list goes on.


When I was growing up, we lived in a house on the beach and spent every weekend swimming, building sand castles and basking in the rays.  I remember my mother rubbing me and my siblings with baby oil and squeezing lemon in our hair to get natural highlights.  Getting that “sun-kissed healthy glow” was a good thing….or so we thought. 

Fortunately, today’s technology allows us to not only diagnose but to treat decades of accumulated UV exposure.  The skin analysis system we use in our office is called the VISIA.  Through multi-spectral technology, it allows us to image a person’s skin and calculate various scores, including a UV score that allows us to customize our treatment recommendations.  Our most popular “anti-cancer” treatment modality is called Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).  It combines the use of a chemotherapeutic agent called Amino Levulanic Acid and a light source to essentially “zap” abnormal (precancer/cancer) cells, returning skin to its natural, healthy state.  It so happens that when we address the skin’s health from the inside out, it looks healthier, firmer more radiant and youthful.  I will be addressing these modalities as well as oral and topical anti-oxidant therapy for the skin in future articles….so stay tuned.


First, I’d like to bust a few myths about sun protection.  These quotes are taken directly from our patients and from those who write in to ask questions:


 “I wear SPF 8 moisturizer and my makeup says SPF 20 so I’m wearing just under the recommended amount.”


The term SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor.”  This number relates to how effective the product is at blocking out the harmful UVA and UVB rays.  Generally, I tell patients to stay between 30 and 40, especially if they are fair skinned and burn easily.  SPF 8 and SPF 20 do not add up to SPF 28.  Also, keep in mind that makeup application is sometimes sporadic rather than homogeneous and liberal.  You brush your teeth to prevent cavities, right?  Put sun block on every morning to prevent skin cancer and premature aging.  Make it part of your morning ritual.  If it helps to remind you, put this picture up on your bathroom mirror:         

Check out Lety Soto’s article for recommendations on some of  the best sunblock products. 

 “I don’t know why I got such a bad burn….I had a T-shirt on the entire time I was on the beach…even in the water!”


Clothing has an SPF of only about 4-5.  The UVB rays can still burn your skin, especially if you are outdoors for a significant amount of time!  TINOSORB® FD, is a UV protectant found in SunGuard that can be added to your laundry load to increase the sun protection in your clothing to about 30.


And don’t forget to protect your eyes!  Your eyes are susceptible to cancer as well.  This ad is a great reminder to make sure you purchase sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.   



A patient who had a severe photosensitivity reaction said:  “I know you told me to completely stay out of the sun after my treatment but the only time I went out was to walk the dog and the sun wasn’t really out…it was foggy.”


This person had a session of Photodynamic Therapy (the anti-cancer skin treatment) and went out the next morning without any protection.  He came to the office around noon in terrible discomfort with redness and swelling that required medication.  The point is that the sun’s rays are still there even if you can’t see the sun.  The wavelength of visible light is between about 400 to 800 nm.  UVA and UVB wavelengths range from about 250 to 400 nm.  In other words, nasty cancer causing UV radiation is INVISIBLE.  Also keep in mind that if you are taking certain drugs such as Doxycycline (antibiotic), Prozac (antidepressant) or Captopril (antihypertensive) or even Naproxen (anti-inflammatory), you can be more susceptible to having a phototoxic reaction to even a few minutes of sun exposure.




“I don’t understand why I have so many wrinkles!  I always stayed out of the sun and would only go to a tanning salon once or twice a month and never stayed long enough to burn.”


This is classic.  I hear it all the time.  Somehow tanning beds are marketed as a “healthy” way to get that bronzed look.  Tanning salons will use the “no burn” as a marketing strategy when, in fact, your skin will still get damaged whether it gets burned or not.  The tanning bed bulbs emit UVA radiation which is less likely to burn you than UVB radiation.  An easy way to remember this is UVA:  “U will get VERY AGED skin” and UVB:  “U will get VERY BURNED.”  Bottom line though is that they both cause wrinkles and skin cancer. 

Get bronzed without the burn – ULTRA MATRIX – The most powerful tanning bed on the planet! 24,000 watts. Just 14 minute sessions. Instant color! Featuring 27 hot 630 watt “no burn” lamps and 6 hot 1000 watt “no burn” face lamps, all with special filters to screen out UVB light to prevent sunburn.


The only time I would pay to lay in one of these high tech frying pans would be if it was designed to repair my cellular DNA, not damage it!

Mole Patrol – don’t forget to protect your children! According to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, most sun exposure that leads to adult skin cancer occurs before the age of 18.  States are jumping on the bandwagon to regulate the use of tanning devices in minors with almost 30 states having enforced or pending legislation.  Australia has the highest incidence of malignant skin cancer in the world and has instituted a program called The National SunSmart School Program which has clearly established guidelines for schools to reduce UV radiation exposure to students.


So, until further notice or until the sun stops shining, get your bronzer from a bottle and worship your skin.


Thank you to all the dedicated readers and keep those questions coming!


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2008Cosminology www.cosminology.com. All rights reserved.


~ by WellMedica on October 14, 2008.

2 Responses to “WORSHIP THE SUN OR YOUR SKIN by Dr. Dima”

  1. Hey, wonderful blog you got here! Keep up the excellent work!

  2. I’ll visit this site again to find out your next post! Excellent job done!

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