Friday, March 15, 2013

To Sun Or Not To Sun

New Bern, NC

I heard news on Radio Sweden yesterday that really jolted me.  They said that melanomas in Sweden were up 18% in one year, and that the government was strongly advising all Swedes to avoid the sun.   WHAT!!! Asking a Swede to avoid the sun is like asking men to avoid women; preposterous.  When the sun comes out, Swedes act like they are doing sunflower imitations.

Years ago, I took my family to the local pool on a hot summer day in Sweden for the first time.  After my brain cooled enough to notice things other than topless women, I detected something very strange.  My family instinctively sought a place in the shade, whereas 100% of the Swedes chose places in the sun.  

The sun is not strong at 65 degrees north latitude.  Even at noon in Sweden, the sun's rays were not strong enough to make my photo-chromatic eyeglasses turn dark.   But down here in our sandbox, 25 North to 45 North, the sun is a lot stronger.  Boaters are like farmers and other people who spend much of their lives outdoors.   We get lots of sun exposure.   Skin cancer is a genuine concern for boaters.

Should we wear sun block 365 days per year?  We have been advised to do so several times, but we don't.   It seems to violate the principle of "all good things in moderation."  We don't believe in popping a handful of pills every day just as a precaution, nor do we use sun block all the time.  We do use it on days where we will be out in the cockpit under the sun for extended periods.

There is also a common sense health effect that I never hear discussed  The health advice we hear in the popular press is often not age-adjusted..  Many diseases are cumulative or they take many years to develop.   As one approaches end of life expectancy, one gains effective immunity to such diseases.   At age 68, I could volunteer to help clean up radioactive debris at the Fukushima plant in Japan, with almost zero health risk because of my age.  Ditto for ultraviolet exposure.   A decade of exposure to the sun at ages 15-25 is more likely to cause trouble than similar exposure at ages 60-70.  Continuous exposure from ages 15-70 is very much more dangerous and the popular press health advice is directed at that group.  If I am ever handed the unwelcome news that I have a terminal illness; my first reaction will be to start smoking.


  1. In my life, I have rarely worn sun block. Hate the stuff. It makes my skin crawl. Wife gets on my case about it. My reply is usually something on the order of FO.

    Recently, she read an article about the side effects of having sun block plugging all those pores in our body's largest organ... go figure... LOL

    She doesn't give me shit about using Sun Block anymore.

    In the article, one of the side effects is the blocking of the vitamin D provided by sunlight. A vitamin, which it would seem, helps prevent melanoma. Go figure.

    The article also stressed several things many boaters do as a matter of course. Wear a hat and sunglasses. Wear a long sleeved linen shirt. Stay in the shade when possible.


    I'm guessing I won't be wearing any sun block, soon.


  2. btw, Apparently, the number one thing you can do to prevent cataracts is wearing sunglasses outdoors. (same article)


Type your comments here.