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Zorba Paster: Summer’s More Fun Wearing Sunscreen

Choose A Sunscreen That You're Most Likely To Use

Mike Roemer/AP Photo

My favorite columns to write at this time of year are my “fun in the sun” columns. Most of my family and I love the winter because it’s ski time; schussing down the hill is ecstasy for us. But those long nights and cold days — last year dipping to 28 degrees below zero — make us pine for the warmer stuff.

What we love best about this kind of weather are those long summer days with the sun out, sitting by our pool, relaxing with friends or playing a good game of water volleyball. Or for me, it’s playing golf with my best buddy Dan or my son, Zak. We make up the score before we play and we can’t count above the number six at each hole. To me this is heaven on Earth especially since we always walk the course.

But being out in the summer sun can have some consequences and one of them is skin cancer. I hate to say it but too much sun is simply too much sun.

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Back in the day — and we’re talking a long, long time ago when Ike was president — we boasted about being out so much we got sunburned. We’d fry in the sun. I remember when my mom just peeled off the top layer of my skin, it crinkled like cellophane, while she slathered on some ointment that made me wince with pain. I winced but I was proud of that burn.

And then there was lying on the beach as a teenager, flirting with the girls sitting nearby, with all of us putting on baby oil to make our tans darker. Those were the days.

It was fun but stupid. We didn’t know what we know now. Sun is fun but sun protection makes sun much more fun.

Let’s start with sunscreen. Pick a broad-based sunscreen that says UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 30 or higher, preferably one that’s water resistant. Pick one you like the feel of using. I have a stick sunscreen that’s easy to use on my face. It’s not messy or oily and it doesn’t get my hands all junked up.

Pick a sunscreen you find aesthetically pleasing that you’re more likely to use over and over again, because you do have to reapply it while you’re out there having fun. I like the sprays. They’re not the best, according to dermatologists, but I find I’ll reapply a spray throughout the day more than I will a cream.

Next, consider clothing. If you look at Bedouins, nomadic people who live in the desert, they don’t walk around in shorts and a tank top. They cover up. Wearing lightweight long-sleeved tops and bottoms with a wide-brimmed hat offers you better protection than anything else.

If you’re not by the pool, you might decide to “dress up” for the sun. Look online for sun protection clothing — you’ll see a ton of stuff that meets your needs.

I have a strong family history of melanoma. My dad had it and three of his sisters died of it. This was back in the 1950s when if you had something “funny” on your skin you didn’t touch it because if you did it just might spread. My poor aunts would have lived had they known that having these spots removed as soon as they saw them was the right thing to do. But then again, they didn’t have the knowledge we have today.

So when it comes to moles and similar spots, think smart by asking the ABCDEs:

A: Is it asymmetrical? Is one half unlike the other half?

B: Is the border irregular, scalloped or poorly defined?

C: Is the color varied from one area to another, with shades of tan, brown or black, or is white, red or blue?

D: Is it bigger than a pencil eraser? Most, though not all, melanomas are.

E: Is it evolving, changing, becoming different in size, shape or color?

Talk to your health care provider if the answer to any of these questions is yes.

My spin: When it comes to summertime and playing in the sun, have fun, of course. But be smart about it. And stay well.

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