'We get enough sun' – public urged to avoid UV radiation

Vitamin D is no excuse to stay out toasting in the sun for a long time thus increasing the risk of skin cancer, said Raimonds Karls, dermatologist and chairman of the board of the association "Dermatologists Against Skin Cancer", in the Latvian Radio program "How to Live Better". 

This month sees the launch of the 'Sun Guard' campaign, which does not call for sun protection, but rather to protect oneself from the sun's rays. It invites everyone to symbolically stand under a parasol and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the harmful effects of sunlight.

Useful information from doctors on how to protect yourself from the sun and how to recognize melanoma (in Latvian) can be found on the website of the association "One step ahead of melanoma", said its founder Sondra Zaļupe. 

Although people's knowledge of the effects of the sun is improving year on year, there is still room for growth, said Karls, adding: "To be more specific, very many people are aware of the need for sun protection. Many people are aware that they should not be in the sun in the middle of the day. These are axioms that we repeat, but we need to go further. We also need to educate people about what the solar ultraviolet index is, that it is worth keeping an eye on."

If the sun's ultraviolet index is high, this is a serious indicator to take into account in your daily routine, and you should pay particular attention to sunscreen, a hat with a wide brim and covering clothing. The doctor stressed that we live under the illusion that there is no sun in Latvia. 

"The fact that we live in a little illusion that we have no sun, that we are pale - that is not our trump card, unfortunately, it is our weak link. We have to realize that there is plenty of sun in the middle of the day in Latvia too. Look, we have put solar panels and batteries everywhere and we get enough sun in these months," said Karls.

"The most important thing is not to burn the skin, because even before a person appears pink, the biochemical processes that can lead to the formation of a malignant tumor are already underway. We are not in favor of people living like moles. We stand for people being informed, keeping track and planning their activities - work activities, leisure activities, hobbies and so on," emphasized Karls.

The doctor stressed that especially those working in the construction and road repair sectors should take care to protect themselves from the sun - this is part of occupational safety to make sure they do not get melanoma, or skin cancer, while working. 

Another myth is that prolonged sunbathing and getting a tan is necessary to absorb vitamin D. 

"Vitamin D production and tanning are inversely proportional - vitamin D is produced in our skin and body as long as we haven't got a tan. When we tan, this 'station' closes down because the skin is naturally designed to produce less vitamin D. So don't use this myth as an advocate for why I spend so much time in the sun," said Karls.

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