NDSU Extension - Sargent County

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Defense Strategies

DEFENSE STRATEGIES 3/3/17

Oh, for a sunny day and the benefits it brings!  The brightness, the warmth, the uplifted moods and smiles! However, there is also a dark side to sunlight.  

That would be the rays of ultraviolet (UV) light.  The two types of UV light of concern are the UV-A and the UV-B rays. 

UV-A rays cause cells to age prematurely and may damage the cells’ DNA slightly.  UV-A rays are associated with wrinkles and may play a role in some skin cancers.  On the other hand, UVB rays cause damage directly to the DNA of cells, cause sunburns, and are associated with most skin cancers.


Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.  North Dakota’s rate of skin cancer is actually higher than the overall rate of skin cancer in the United States. 

What’s your plan when it comes to managing the risks associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light?  Defense is the name of the game!  Here are strategies for you to consider.

Limit sun exposure between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Staying indoors or in the shade is advised.  If that is not possible or realistic for you, take your own shade with you!  There are lots of ways to shade yourself:

  • Choose a hat with at least a 3-inch brim to protect your head, neck, ears, and face.  According to CDC, up to 80% of skin cancers occur on the head and neck
  • Wear a shirt with a collar and long sleeves to protect your neck and arms.
  • Avoid clothing that you can see light through.  If you can see light, UV rays are getting through.

Wear sunglasses that are labeled for UVA and UVB protection. Look for sunglasses that say “UV absorption up to 400nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements.”  The wrap-around style block more of the harmful rays and protect tender skin around your eyes.  Sunglasses also reduce the risk of cataracts. 

Use a generous amount (1 oz.) of broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher even on cloudy days, and reapply it at least every two hours.  Up to 80% of the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate your skin, even if we don’t see the sun.  A broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect the skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays. One ounce is enough to fill up a shot glass.  Use lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher, also.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/straw-hat-pareo-sunglasses-779239/  (downloaded 3/7/17)

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