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Skin Cancer Foundation Urges Winter Sun Care

Posted: January 18, 2010

The Skin Cancer Foundation is urging people to continue protecting their skin from harsh UV rays even in the colder temperatures of winter.

If you're like many people, you slather on sunscreen during hot summer days, then in winter, not so much. Short, cold days make it easy to forget that the sun doesn't go into hibernation.

While the intensity of ultraviolet B (UVB) rays diminishes in the winter, ultraviolet A (UVA) rays remain constant all year, said Perry Robins, MD, president of the Skin Cancer Foundation. And UVA rays are about 30 to 50 times more prevalent than UVB rays.

Too much of either isn't good for your skin, but UVA rays pose particular dangers to your skin. Though UVA rays are less likely than UVB rays to cause sunburn, UVA rays do contribute to skin cancer. And the longer wavelength UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than shorter wavelength UVB rays. The damage causes skin to lose its elasticity, leading to the classic signs of aging: wrinkles, sagging and brown spots.

"Our knowledge of the dangers associated with UVA rays has grown significantly over the last few decades. We now know that UVA plays a significant role in skin cancer," Robins said. "Therefore, consumers need to educate themselves on how to protect against these damaging rays and remember that sun protection is an all-year-round concern."