You likely know that sun exposure can cause premature aging and skin cancer. But how about cataracts and DNA damage? The Coalition for Skin Cancer Prevention in Maryland recently revamped its Web site, SunGuard Man Online (www.sunguardman.org). to spread the word that all these conditions are preventable.
More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer -- 10,000 of them fatal -- will be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Grim as these facts are, SunGuard Man adopts a playful tone -- rare and refreshing for a health site -- while teaching ways to minimize risk.
The site reminds us that risk of overexposure is highest at midday and underscores the value of sunscreen, protective clothing, a hat and shade. Regular self-exams promote early detection of skin cancer, when it's more treatable. The site also debunks claims made by tanning salons. There's no such thing as a safe tan.
Some advice -- like shunning the sun between 10 and 4, or covering head-to-toe -- is impractical. And what's up with that link to The Weather Channel's national UV map? Am I safer beaching in Martha's Vineyard than Bodega Bay? Some interpretation would help.
The site diverts kids while it educates them through electronic games. I enjoyed maneuvering an animated SunGuard Man to avoid being hit by the UV menace. The game made me nostalgic for the hours I spent playing PacMan indoors during college. At least there I didn't have to worry about skin cancer risk.