Skin and bones

It never rains but it pours: two blog posts in two days. Prepare for the inevitable drought to follow. In the meantime... When the issue of emigrating - to Australia, no less - first cropped up, there were obviously a few things to consider before hopping on the plane:

  1. leaving my job and possibly not finding equivalent work (and no chance of continuing the career I loved so much – no wonderful NHS here!).
  2. family and friends – bye... (should I have put that first? This list is not exhaustive and is in no particular order, she hastily adds for the benefit of left behind family and friends)
  3. spiders, snakes, roaches etc – hmm.
  4. living in a warmer country – sorry, what were all those other trivial issues? Let’s go!

There’s only one downside to living in perpetual sunshine, of course. Okay, there’s also sunburn, heatstroke, too hot to go out sometimes, bush fires, climate favoured by tropical killers and a few other things, but really skin cancer is the big one.

So I invested heavily in sunscreen, hats, sleeves, the lot. I have been through goodness knows how many giant bottles of sunscreen in the last two years, plus many smaller ones for my face and for on the move (although, come summer, I take the giant ones with me to the beach and city – no risk of running out partway through the day).

I think I even wrote a blog post on sun safety (if that’s true, and I find it, I’ll link to it here).

What an excellent example I am.

Then I went for a health check a while back.

And was told I had a vitamin deficiency. Specifically, vitamin D. The vitamin you get primarily from, yes, sun exposure.

Well.

How could I live in Australia and be sunshine-deprived? It seems impossible, irrespective of how many sun-blocking procedures I employ on a daily basis. Surely I can’t be that diligent?

It turns out I’m not the only one.

Approximately one in two Australians will get skin cancer at some stage.

Around one in three Australians, however, is vitamin D deficient.

That doesn’t leave many Australians still on the tightrope.

So apparently we are going to extremes when it comes to the sun and how many monkeys we give: Australia can be divided into the devil-may-care brigade and the vampire posse. I don’t plan to go anywhere near the first crew – I’d still take vitamin deficiency over melanoma - but bones and stuff are at risk if I don’t leave the vampire zone now and then.

The solution?

Controlled exposure.

Whilst I thought I had things under control by including creaming up as part of my morning ritual, I have now been prescribed unadulterated sunlight, for 30 minutes a day (early on, before the intense midday stuff happens), then on with the sunscreen.

So there you go. 50% of the population – give or take – in line for skin cancer. 33% cowering beneath a parasol. Leaving a tiny percentage to get the balance – and the element of chance – roughly correct.

Anyway, I was out walking this morning to get my half-hour in, and thought I should really share the info in case you are one of the 88% (not allowing for crossover) falling either side of the UV exposure tightrope. It's pretty crowded down here.

So, respect the sun, but make allowances for your bones. Remember, like ultraviolet rays, just because you can’t see your bones, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

PS All stats quoted are approximate and remembered only from various things I have read over the last year. I am also aware that people can take maximum precautions in the sun and still not escape unscathed. This is just my silly blog. Thank you.