Two-time Olympic Gold Medallist Offers Sun Safety Tips for Athletes

STATE – Two-time Olympic Gold medallist Christie Rampone knows that sun protection is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, particularly for people like her who spend so much time outdoors.

The captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Rampone will participate in her fourth Olympic Games this year in London. She is also a member of Team SCF, a group of professional athletes working with The Skin Cancer Foundation to raise awareness about skin cancer among active people. Those who spend extended time outdoors are particularly vulnerable to the cumulative damage caused by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation; about 65 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with sun exposure.

“Matches are usually outdoors and can be held at all times of day, so staying safe in the sun is really important to me,” Rampone said. “Aside from being concerned about my own health, I also want to set a good example for my daughters, so I seek shade and cover up with clothing whenever possible and wear sunscreen every day.”

Rampone and The Skin Cancer Foundation offer these sun safety tips for those with an active, outdoor lifestyle:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM whenever possible. Schedule training, practices and games for the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns over the course of a lifetime.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with tightly woven or knit, dark- or bright- colored fabrics, which offer the best defense.
  • For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Sunscreen running into the eyes is a perennial concern (and an occasional excuse for not wearing any), but the pros have ways of dealing with this: Rampone applies petroleum jelly to her eyebrows, since it keeps sunscreen on her forehead from migrating into her eyes.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. Be careful to cover often-missed exposed spots such as the hands, ears and the back of the neck.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and Naproxen (Aleve) make you extra-sensitive to the sun. If you use such medications for your aches and pains, be vigilant about protecting your skin.

Rampone knows that the damp weather in London is no excuse to skimp on sun protection. She has said, “The worst days aren’t always the ones that are hot and sunny. It’s the overcast days [up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation can penetrate clouds] when you’re not thinking about the sun – then you really get burned.”

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