Virtually all light-skinned people experience sunburn at some time in their lives from direct exposure to the sun or from its light reflected off water, snow or sand. For some the injury of sunburn will be a mildly painful reddening of the skin—a first-degree burn—that fades in a few days. For others it will be a fiery, excruciating, blistering, skin-peeling ordeal that lasts weeks. For a rare few, severe sunburn can require hospitalization.

Even when the pain of sunburn has faded, however, its cancer potential lingers. Sunburn appears to suppress the immune system and could increase susceptibility to disease. Repeated burns cause degenerative changes that speed up aging and produce wrinkled, leathery skin.
More importantly, chronic exposure to the sun causes damage to skin-cell DNA and can produce cancerous and precancerous skin lesions. And, a history of frequent sunburn increases the risk of melanoma, the most dangerous of these cancerous skin lesions.

Melanoma is the “most rapidly increasing malignancy of all malignancies,” says Vincent DeLeo, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at Columbia University’s St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center in New York City. “The ozone’s not doing it. It’s people’s search for the golden tan that’s causing it.”

Your body tries to protect itself against further sun exposure by tanning, or producing a pigment called melanin, which absorbs ultraviolet (UV) light. Generally, the more an area has been tanned, the more intensely it will tan after each new exposure. But tanned skin is not healthy skin; it’s already been damaged. Further tanning produces further damage. “There’s no free lunch and no safe tan,” says Dr. DeLeo.

People with darker skin color have more built-in protection against the sun because they have more efficient melanin-producing cells. But they can still suffer sunburn from prolonged exposure.

Sunburn and its symptoms can also be made worse by the interaction of UV light and certain kinds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These include many antibiotics, various anti-cancer compounds, diuretics, acne medications, heart medications and high blood pressure drugs. You should consult with a physician bout possible interactions between the sun and medications you’re taking.


Men’s Health-Erectile Dysfunction


How common: Anyone who bares skin to the sun is vulnerable, and most everyone gets burned at some point in their lifetime.

Risk factors: Prolonged exposure of skin to direct or reflected sunlight, roughly between the hours of 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. Fair-skinned people are at greatest risk.

Age group affected: Men of all ages get burned. More serious skin problems linked to sunburn are cumulative, meaning the more you get burned, the more susceptible you are to other skin diseases.

Gender gap: None.

Who to see: Family doctor if sunburn is severe and symptoms include blistering, weakness, confusion or convulsions. Also if you are taking medications that might increase sensitivity to sunlight.
You wake to a brilliant sunny Saturday and eagerly consider the possibilities: the beach, bike riding, volleyball, a picnic.
As soon as you step outside, you’ll be hit by ultraviolet radiation from the sun that within minutes could start wreaking havoc inside your skin. Cells break, blood vessels leak, tissues swell and possibly, deep down, a cancer begins.

Alarmist rhetoric from pale and pimply doctors? Sorry. No matter how much you want to believe otherwise, all research shows that tanned skin is damaged1 skin, and sunburned skin is even worse for you.

“It is possible for one very bad sunburn to initiate changes in skin that result in skin cancer,” says Rodney Basler, M.D., a dermatologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “The norm, though, is a lifetime of unprotected sun exposure for developing skin cancer.”
Men’s Health-Erectile Dysfunction


If you’re a mature, responsible, sexually active adult—whether you’re 18 or 80—then get tested for STDs. Not only will testing help prevent the potential long-term damage that can be caused by undetected STDs, it will also help ensure you don’t inadvertently infect someone else.

“If you’ve had more than one partner or your partner has had more than one partner, then periodic examinations would be a good idea,” Dr. Johnson advises. “It’s especially important for men to get tested since men don’t always exhibit symptoms.”

Private physicians and health clinics routinely test for STDs. Some clinics, offer subsidized or free testing for patients unable to shoulder the cost. To detect syphilis or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), doctors will draw a blood sample. For gonorrhea and chlamydia they’ll take a culture from the inside of your penis with a cotton swab. For herpes and genital warts doctors usually give a visual exam, though a culture can be taken from open sores.

“Just remember that tests are not a panacea. The emphasis should be cm prevention,” Dr. Johnson warns. And remember to ask your partners to get tested, too. It won’t do you much good to get a clean bill of health if you’re just going to get reinfected again.


Men’s Health-Erectile Dysfunction


Nature appears to be on the side of males. Although the issue is still largely unresolved, traditional thought has it that a man’s body is less likely to be invaded by marauding bacteria than a woman’s. That’s because a woman’s vagina is dark, warm and moist—conditions under which bacteria thrive. Can’t say that about a penis. Plus, urination helps flush out whatever gets inside a man’s member.

On the flip side, men claim to have far more sexual partners over time than women, putting them at greater risk of exposure. While no one can say definitively whether men get STDs more or less than women, there is absolutely no question that if you have sex, you are susceptible. So here’s how to avoid the potential dangers.

Consider abstaining. Life offers few promises, but abstaining from sex pretty much guarantees you won’t get an STD. Unless you are in a healthy, monogamous relationship, you may want to contemplate sleeping alone until you meet that special someone you think you might have a future with.

Watch the numbers. Obviously, abstention isn’t for everyone. A 3,432-person study conducted through the National Opinion Research Center found that more than 50 percent of men claim to have had five or more sex partners after age 18.

Time to face up to facts: The more sexually active you are, the greater your potential risk for contracting an STD. And you don’t have to be a Don Juan or have a new partner each week to be at risk, says Robert E. Johnson, M.D., a research scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “For most people it’s the fact that they’re changing partners once every year or two,” Dr. Johnson says.

Count on prescription relief. Since the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s, diseases that had plagued men for centuries suddenly could be cured or controlled. So if you do contract an STD, there’s probably no need to take religious vows—just medication.

“Even with most advanced cases of gonorrhea or chlamydia, you can treat them and get good results,” Ingram says. “Just don’t slip in during the dark of night, get your treatment and disappear,” she adds. “You’ll need follow-up treatments and blood work” to confirm the treatment has worked.
Men’s Health-Erectile Dysfunction