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Myth-Busting: Sun Exposure Dangers


Here are some commonly held beliefs about sun protection, which are shared by many anglers. Only problem is, they're false. Knowing when to call foul when you hear them can make for a safer day on the water for everyone.

Myth #1: Sunscreen is a once-and-done deal

Myth: When you wake up and head out, sunscreen is like clothing: you wear it and forget it. As long as you remember to slather yourself in the morning, you'll be good all day.

Truth: While sunscreens with a higher SPF are, in theory, designed to protect your skin for a longer period of time, that's just in theory. The truth is you need to reapply your sunscreen every two hours while in the sun. An easy way to remember is to only think of whether the time you're putting it on is an even or odd hour of the day (one or two?), then all you'll have to remember is even or odd. If you apply at noon, which is an even hour, you should be slathering on some sunscreen at even hours for the rest of the time you're on the water.

Myth #2: If it's cloudy you're fine

Myth: If it's a gray and gloomy day, there's no way any sun is getting to your skin, so you're fine!

Truth: As many as 80 percent of the sun's rays can come through cloud cover. Think of this another way: that cloud is only blocking 20 percent of the UV rays that are coming down, so while you might not have to squint, your skin isn't getting a break. We often associate sun exposure with those cloudless bluebird days where you're burnt to a crisp, but to think those are the only days you're at danger is nonsense. Think about it this way: anyone who winds up with skin cancer has likely spent a good deal of time outdoors. How many days are the kind of cloudless, bluebird days most of us associate with sunburns and skin cancer? Exactly. If the sun is endangering your life, it is doing it through cloud cover, clothing and everything but consistently reapplied sunscreen.


Myth #3: Only fair-skinned people are really at risk for skin cancer

Myth: Sure, your Irish and German friends need to lather up with sunscreen, but if you're darker skinned, you'll never get skin cancer.

Truth: In truth, darker skinned people, although they're less likely to be burnt in a traditional sense, have a higher likelihood of dying from a skin cancer if they do contract it. That doesn't sound like a safe bet to anybody.


Myth #4: It takes a lifetime of tanning to get skin cancer

Myth: A person would have to spend years and years laying in the sun or being outdoors for UV rays to cause cancer in his or her body. If you're only in your 20s, you can spend plenty of time in the sun left before you need to worry.

Truth: Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation [add link here]. Prolonged sun exposure, no matter your age, puts you in greater danger every time you expose yourself to the sun unprotected.

Myth #5: The scent of sunscreen on a lure will deter fishsunscreenscent

Myth: If I have sunscreen on my hands and handle a lure, it's a sure fish-deterrent.

Truth: Whether or not you think that an unnatural smell on a lure will deter fish isn't terribly important here. Think about this: when you wash your hands, do you use soap? When you put gas in your car or boat do you use gloves? When you grabbed that sandwich did you use a napkin? The truth about our hands is that in all likelihood they smell like€¦ human hands and anything that they're dipped into. If you want them to smell like bait, by all means rinse them in the bait bucket between casts, after you put on sunscreen.

From the author: Skin cancers, like melanoma, have reached epidemic proportions and few people are at a greater risk than anglers. Skin cancers kill more people than all other types of cancers combined. Most skin cancers can be prevented by taking care outdoors and using the right Sun Safe Gear.

After losing my father to skin cancer, I've become determined to make a difference in his memory. That's why I'm fishing my way around Florida to raise awareness, and with the help of the folks at Buff and the online editors at Florida Sportsman, In-Fisherman, Fly Fisherman, and Game & Fish Magazine, raise as many dollars as I can for the Melanoma Research Foundation. Follow the journey on my blog, FishingRick, and through a Facebook page where I'll share more updates.

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