To the Editor:
I am writing to inform you of an urgent issue that should be of concern to Ponte Beach residents. My name is Jairo Hernandez, and I am a medical student at the University of Florida College of Medicine. I moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 2013, and at the time I didn’t notice that a very common activity in our town is putting our lives in danger.
In medical school, our curriculum highlights the serious long-term consequences associated with a fun trip for Ponte Vedra Beach residents: going to the beach.
In the U.S., the number of adults treated for skin cancer each year is increasing dramatically. Sunburn is an indicator of skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, and it has been tightly associated with the development of skin cancer (a person’s risk of developing skin cancer doubles if they have had more than five sunburns). Studies have shown that people aged 13-18, whites and those at beach locations along the East Coast are at the highest risk for sunburn, making Ponte Vedra Beach especially susceptible to the dangers of the sun.
On top of the increased risk of skin cancer, sunburns lead to deep wrinkles, skin discoloration, accelerated skin aging and eye damage. Fortunately, a lot of these dangers are easily preventable.
The Mayo Clinic recommends reducing sun exposure with hats, clothing and sunglasses and avoiding the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Most importantly, sunscreen should be used frequently and generously (SPF 30 or greater every two hours).
We can become so accustomed to beach life that we forget the real dangers of the Sun’s UV rays. I implore all Ponte Vedra Beach residents to protect themselves from the blazing sun this summer, and to have fun!
University of Florida College of Medicine
M.D. Candidate | Class of 2025
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