Last week, as you probably know, was Discovery Channel’s annual shark infestation. Lots of close-ups of Great Whites lurking in chum, anxious cameramen in underwater cages and general gnashing of teeth. Congratulations, you survived. But despite some admittedly disturbing human/shark encounters along the Carolina coast of late, let’s put things in perspective:
In 2014, three people worldwide died of shark attacks. But annually, one person EVERY HOUR dies from melanoma.
Worry about sharks, or wear SPF? You decide. Sharks sell more TV ads, but from a health and longevity perspective, our vote is for SPF. So here are three quick reminders:
- Go broad.
Just like there are sand sharks and black tips and lots of other kinds, there are different harmful sun rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA), that lead to premature aging of the skin; and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB), that cause sunburn. But both can cause skin cancer, so choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both.
- Apply early.
Sunscreen can take up to 30 minutes to bind to skin, so apply early, before you go out.
- Go overboard.
Well, not literally. But don’t skimp on sunscreen, use more rather than less. Experts recommend one ounce of liquid cream every two hours, or after a long dip in the pool or lots of sweating or wiping sweaty body parts. That’s the equivalent of a shot glass – more than most people actually apply.
Unproven added bonus: Sunscreen (if you haven’t tried it) doesn’t taste all that great, so if you apply enough, it might be a helpful shark deterrent.