To many people, one of the best things about warm weather is being able to drive with your arm resting on the open window sill while the wind blows in your hair. And the summer months are prime time for those with convertibles or sunroofs. “The open-air experience is part of what makes the freedom of driving so rewarding,” writes Autoblog. But if you’re planning to do a lot of driving under the sun this summer, remember to put on some sunscreen first. According to a study published last month, skin cancer is more likely to occur on the driver's-window side of your body.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, showed that when skin cancer occurs on only one side of the body in U.S. cancer patients, it’s likely that it will be on the left side. And in Australia, where drivers sit on the right side of the car, skin cancer is more likely to occur on a patient’s right arm or the right side of the face. Plus, while skin cancer was more likely to develop on a patient’s driver-side arm or face, occurrences on patients’ legs were evenly distributed. This led the researchers to conclude, “Driver-side automobile ultraviolet exposure (approximately 5-fold stronger on the left than right arm) is a likely contributing factor” to the phenomenon.
Unfortunately, just rolling the window up and blasting the air conditioner won’t fix the problem completely. “Windows do provide some protection from the sun’s dangerous rays, but you can still get a sunburn with the window up,” writes Consumer Reports. But luckily, taking the same precautions that you would use before spending time outside will help protect you in your car. The American Cancer Society advocates the “Slip, slop, slap and wrap,” campaign to help prevent skin cancer, saying people should “slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap on sunglasses.” So, as long as you’re careful not to get sunscreen all over your upholstery, you can still stay safe in your car and enjoy the summer breeze with your windows down.
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