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Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 8:19 a.m.

Special clothing combines sunblock ability and summer fashion

  • The Badwater Ultramarathon is ventilated so it can be worn during physical activities and still provide sun protection.

    Sun Precautions

    The Badwater Ultramarathon is ventilated so it can be worn during physical activities and still provide sun protection.

  • The oversized shirt can be used as a cover-up in the garden or at the pool.

    Sun Precautions

    The oversized shirt can be used as a cover-up in the garden or at the pool.

  • The Safari Shirt is designed to protect the wearer from the sun while still keeping him or her cool.

    Sun Precautions

    The Safari Shirt is designed to protect the wearer from the sun while still keeping him or her cool.

  • The Solumbra Sun Hat has a 4" brim.

    Sun Precautions

    The Solumbra Sun Hat has a 4" brim.

  • Shaun Hughes, founder and president of Sun Precautions, developed Solumbra after he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma.

    Sun Precautions

    Shaun Hughes, founder and president of Sun Precautions, developed Solumbra after he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma.

The Northwest may remain devoid of hot, sunny days for the most of the year, but the clouds don't stop much of sun's ultraviolet radiation from damaging our skin.
More than 80 percent of sun's ultraviolet radiation gets through clouds, exposing us to UV rays that can pose a potentially life-threatening danger, skin cancer.
According to American Academy of Dermatology, the country's largest dermatologic association, more than 1 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Melanoma, caused by uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells, is the most dangerous of all. An estimated 114,900 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the United States in 2010, according to American Academy of Dermatology estimates.
Dr. Robin Hornung, a dermatologist at The Everett Clinic, says older people with fair skin are more likely to have skin cancer.
"The lighter the skin color, the more likely to have skin cancers," Hornung said.
The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over the age of 50, according to the National Cancer Institute.
While melanoma is uncommon among African-Americans, Latinos and Asians, it is frequently fatal for these populations. That's because melanomas appear on parts of bodies least exposed to sun, such as the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.
In Caucasians, melanoma more frequently appears on skin directly exposed to the sun. Lighter skin, Hornung said, produces less natural pigmentation that protects skin from the sun's radiation.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there are about 9,000 melanoma-related deaths in the U.S. each year, with about 200 in Washington state for 2010.
Lathering up with sunscreens is helpful, but "a lot of times sunscreens are applied ineffectively," Hornung said. "Even sweatproof or waterproof sunscreens do wear off over time," she said.
So sunscreens should be reapplied frequently.
Hornung and other dermatologists also recommend wearing sun-protective clothing. It can prevent sunburns, which can lead to melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
Sun Precautions, an Everett-based company, developed a line of protective clothing and accessories for men, women and children that blocks more than 97 percent of harmful UV rays.
The clothing, known as Solumbra, has an SPF, or sun protection factor, of 30-plus.
Typical summer clothing -- a cotton T-shirt or a polo shirt -- provides an SPF of less than 9.
Shaun Hughes of Seattle, founder and president of Sun Precautions, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at 26. Luckily, his cancer was caught in time. With the help of experts from various fields, he developed Solumbra.
"Solumbra clothing is designed for some of the most sensitive people in the world, but many of our customers are simply sun-smart people practicing a healthy lifestyle," Hughes said.
While skin cancer is not as common in wet Washington as it is in California or Arizona, it can be a problem for those "who work indoors and go out to places like Hawaii … (they can) have a high rate of getting a sunburn, which then can result in melanoma," Hughes said.
"It's a wonderful solution for people who already use sunscreens and are concerned about their skin," Hughes said.

Sun Precautions
2815 Wetmore Ave., Everett.
Sun protective clothing includes shirts, pants, skirts and jackets. You can order a free catalog by calling 800-882-7860 or visit www.sunprecautions.com.



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