My mom will tell you she's "allergic to the sun."
But this wasn't always the case. She grew up basking in the Florida sun. Those days, however, caught up with her when I was in elementary school. Doctors found basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common form of skin cancer, on her nose.
I remember coming home one day in first grade to my mom's face covered in gauze following her first surgery. "She looks like a mummy," I would tell my friends on the playground, as I thought of my mom in pain.
With the first day of summer just days away, beach day invitations are starting to roll in. With every response I give, I think of my mom and the subsequent surgeries she's undergone to remove more BCCs from her face. And when I pack my beach bag, I'll think of a new study published in Nature on June 11.
The Institute of Cancer Research found sunscreen inadequately protects from melanoma. Researchers found mice exposed to UV rays still suffered damage to the p53 gene despite having sunscreen on. The p53 gene typically helps defend skin from UV rays, and when it's damaged by the sun's radiation, risk of melanoma forming increases. Sunscreen is essential because it helps slow impairment to this gene; however, its sun defense isn't absolute. That's why it's key to take precautions beyond SPF to guard us from the harmful effects of the sun.
Nowadays, my mom has changed her sun protection habits. You'll find her decked out in her favorite cowboy hat, wraparound sunglasses and long-sleeved cover-up dress. She's a pro at finding the shadiest spot at the pool or beach and highest SPF on the market.
And by her side, you'll find me wearing the biggest, floppiest hat and Jackie O shades.
Image: Mother And Daughter Under Beach Umbrella Putting On Sun Cream (ShutterStock)