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Tip a Hat for Safety

BY CHUCK SMITH
Great Bend Tribune

As Americans are getting more concerned about protecting themselves from the dangers of too much sun, and its contribution to too much skin cancer in our culture, they are also turning back to an old safety device that’s also a fashion statement — the hat.

In the trail driving days, you could tell where a cowboy was from by the shape and size of his hat, according to the old-timers. A cowboy with an especially wide-brimmed hat was from the Southwest, where the blazing sun could fry a man, and the only shade he was likely to find was under his hat.

For similar reasons, Americans today are being encouraged to crawl back under their sombreros — or at least to seek some protection from hats when they are working or playing out in the sun.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there is a trend in clothing designers to not only bring back hats, but to also include styles that have wide enough brims to offer protection to the face, ears and neck.

"The trend is particularly welcome because exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVR) increases the risk of all skin cancers, and broad-brimmed hats provide significant sun protection for the head and neck. As it turns out, shielding these vulnerable areas is especially important," according to information from the Skin Cancer Foundation.

"A recent study at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that melanomas on the head and neck are particularly dangerous. Among 51,704 non-Hispanic white adults with melanoma, patients with melanomas of the head and neck were almost twice as likely to die from the disease as patients with melanomas on other areas, including the trunk, facial skin, and ears," the Foundation stresses.

Those who created the UNC study, stressed that adding a wide-brimmed hat to the everyday wardrobe really makes a difference, especially over time. "Many of these melanoma deaths might have been avoided with proper precautions: ‘I think that wearing a broad-brimmed hat should help prevent melanoma of the head and neck, including dangerous melanomas of the scalp and neck,’ commented study coauthor Nancy Thomas, MD, PhD."



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