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From Sexy to Saggy

By James Barber M.D.
Cosmetic Surgery Expert
Updated: September 10, 2008
As a plastic surgeon, I treat people with lines, wrinkles, and age spots on a daily basis. After years of experience, I can personally attest that one of the leading causes of these imperfections is sun exposure. While there is definitely an appeal to having a golden bronze beach body in our younger years, the effects we see later on can be ugly, and possibly deadly.

Short bursts of sun exposure, around 5 to 10 minutes per day, can be healthy, rejuvenating vitamin D levels. Exposure, be it to sunlight or tanning bulbs, in excess of this allows UV rays to damage the elastin in our skin. The skin then begins to sag and stretch, losing its youthfulness and becoming less able to repair itself. This is often a precursor to much more devastating consequences.

Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the U.S., and its numbers are still growing. Many specialists predict that 80 to 90% of all skin cancers arise from sun exposure and burns people receive before the age of 18. This initial damage is then augmented by continued exposure.

It is very important to regulate sun exposure as much as possible because its damage cannot be undone. Here are some tips you can use when you are out in the sun:
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• Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and be sure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

• Look for ingredients like titanium, zinc, and parsol 1789 to keep UVA rays out.

• Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go out.

• Avoid direct exposure between 10AM and 3PM.

• Put sunscreen on your lips; skin cancers spread more quickly there.

• Check medication that may cause sun sensitivity - antibiotics, antidepressants, and Acutane.

• Remember that "fake" tans still need sunscreen.

• Perform self-exams to be familiar with existing skin growth and to notice changes or new growth.

Forever Facts:

• The National Academy of Sciences is urging women to reduce their fat intake. New evidence shows that dioxins, or DLC'S, in many fatty foods are passed to offspring through the placenta and breast milk.

• Taste tests may soon be used to estimate a person's risk of alcoholism. A study in June's Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows that children with alcoholic fathers have a higher sensitivity for salty and sour tastes.

• Columbia University studies show that negative ion generators can do as much for depression as anti-depressants. Negative ions are molecules found in high concentrations near moving water and sunlight, such as beaches, waterfalls, and mountain streams.

Words of Wisdom:

"If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream." -Martin Luther King Jr.

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