Guyside: Your Skin

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in aging, skin cancer | 1 comment

portrait

Bob is out today so I’m taking over Guyside this week. And what better than continue the topic that I started on Monday about skincare. Only this time, it’s the guys that I am most worried about. Did you know that not only has the bulk of research conducted on UV exposure and sun protection been conducted in women, but the few that have looked at men have discovered a rather troubling fact:

Guys are far less concerned about visible aging than women, in part due to different cultural pressures to retain a youthful look. But more importantly, when they skip the sunscreen, they do so because they actually like the effects of UV exposure on their skin. And, I am not referring to the glow of a tan but the ‘ruggedness’ of weathered skin.

When you go for rugged and weathered you may also be signing up for non-melanoma skin cancer (aka squamous cell), which men develop significantly more often than women. The reasons go beyond the lack of use of skin protection and cultural mores; laboratory studies in mice suggest that there are gender differences in how male and female skin reacts to UV light, and theoretically, men may produce less catalase, an enzyme that protects cells from damage.

It’s only squamous cell, right?! Well, hold on, because while it is not usually malignant, it can spread and cause serious complications when it gets into the lymph nodes. In some men, it’s a downright death sentence.

Getting back to the issue at hand: what does it take to get men to pay attention?

I’m not a man so I can only speak for the research. And in the scant research that has been conducted on this topic in men, the answer is pretty simple:

shock and awe.

In fact, when researchers gathered a small group of men between the ages of 18 and 34 and exposed them to a computer program that demonstrated their personal aging process based on UV and non-UV exposure, ┬áthe guys who were immediately shocked by what they saw were the ones who indicated that the experience would affect their current use of sun protection agents and sun exposure behaviors. And among the ten guys who didn’t care? They tended to raise the positives about the way they appeared in the images.

“I think that I look quite tough…experienced…and weathered.” One man noted that he would have to be persuaded about the risk to his health.

It appears that on average, men engage in riskier sun exposure behaviors than women. Slapping on sunscreen is seen as feminine and some men are simply unfazed by facial aging, noting that wrinkles add character and rugged good looks.

But here’s the rub: after the rugged good looks phase come issues that are difficult to deal with. My dad, for example, grew up on a beach in the 30s and 40s. He’s spent his life having patches of skin removed and once handsome, he is simply an example of skin gone wrong.

Bottom line: sunscreen – wear it. And rugged good looks? All I can say is that some of you may remember the Marlboro Man. Four of these men died as a result of their behavior, in this case, smoking. But more importantly, statistics show that more than half of men don’t use sunscreen and about 71% don’t know squat about cancer warning signs.

Rugged good looks fade. Skin cancer doesn’t.

One Comment

  1. 8-28-2014

    This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. My father died from a melanoma when he was 43 years old (1972)-he worked out in the yard and was on the water a lot….blue eyed, blonde hair and no sunscreen! I’m a big advocate of sunscreen for everyone!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *