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Family Health: Sunburn Dangers

Doctors say they can have a life-long effect on your skin.
It's hard to avoid the hot Arkansas summer sun. Those harmful rays can cause damage to your skin that can last a lifetime.

Dr. Jennifer Lucas, a dermatologist with the Cleveland Clinic, says sunburns have a cumulative effect on our bodies.

"So, with each burn you get you are putting yourself at more risk down the road for the development of skin cancer, as well as aging, wrinkles - all the changes that we don't like on our skin," she says.

Prolonged sun exposure weakens your skin's support system, which is why people who spend a lot of time in the sun look older than they really are. It also damages DNA, which increases your cancer risk.

"So, you're causing damage inside the actual DNA of the cells themselves. So, in their genetic makeup you're causing "insults", if you will, that ultimately, if you continue to expose it to more of the radiation or the sun's rays, you're making more damage," Dr. Lucas explains.

Dr. Lucas says about half of the sun exposure we get in a lifetime occurs before the age of 18, which is why it's important to teach our kids safe sun practices.

She says you can't hide from the sun - but you can protect your skin. Use a golf-ball-size amount of sunscreen when you're at the beach or the pool - and reapply about every 90 minutes.
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