Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hello, Sunshine!

     I got a reminder last week about the importance of sunscreen.
     It was at my dermatologist’s office, but she didn’t have to remind me verbally. All she had to do was pull out her little liquid-nitrogen blowtorch and set to work freezing off all the incipient skin cancers on my face and body.
     Not fun. It hurts (although not nearly as bad as would letting those little blemishes turn into full-blown skin cancers). But it does give one pause.
     The cancers-in-the-making, as I’ve noted here previously, are caused by exposure to sunshine. You may have been exposed years and years ago, but the results pop up only now. And pop up. And will pop up again. I see the dermatologist twice a year as a result.
     When I was doing the George Hamilton tan dude routine all those years ago, not enough of us knew (or cared) about sun damage. I didn’t start using sunscreen until much later in life. I’m using it now, though, and how. Wouldn’t want this year’s sun damage to show up when I’m 90. And no, that’s not too old to care.
     Yes, doctors say we all need our Vitamin D, and that the best way to get it is from sunshine. I get my Vitamin D mostly from enriched milk, thank you. In warmer weather, I wear shorts and let my legs be exposed to sunshine – but briefly. And only the legs. They bear far less evidence of earlier sun damage than my face, ears, shoulders and the backs of my hands. And my nose. It must have been a real sun-magnet in my youth.
     Today, even if it’s cloudy, that schnoz is protected by sunscreen. Or, better yet, sunblock. (Neutrogena makes one with an SPF 55.)
     No more reminders needed.

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