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Program aims to keep Stanford athletes sun-safe

screen_time_portraitEach summer growing up, I had a line just under my knees. Above was tan, as tan as a pale-skinned blonde can get. Below was a milky white. That line — my shinguard tan — was a badge of honor. It showed how many hours I had spent training, playing -- evidence of how much I cared about my sport.

But, as I know now, it was also dangerous -- a sign of too much sun exposure.

SUNSPORT, a program spearheaded by Stanford Athletics, the Department of Dermatology and the Stanford Cancer Institute, is aiming to ensure all Stanford athletes slather up with sunscreen, and stay in the shade when they can.

A recent Stanford Medicine magazine article explains:

The program, developed in 2012, conducts longitudinal research through annual surveys of Stanford’s nearly 900 student-athletes’ sun-exposure and skin-protection behaviors. SUNSPORT (Stanford University Network for Sun Protection, Organization, Research and Teamwork) also provides annual skin screening for athletes, educational talks to teams and in-depth presentations on sun damage and skin protection for coaches and athletic trainers.

'The education and treatment provided by our dermatologists make an impact, but we see student-athletes’ habits really change when they receive consistent reinforcement from coaches and athletic trainers,' says Susan Swetter, MD, professor of dermatology, director of Stanford’s Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Program, and a SUNSPORT founder.

It's already made a difference for the softball team. Now as they throw balls around to warm-up, they also toss a bottle of sunscreen.

Previously: Stay sun-safe this summer with these sunscreen tipsIt's never too early to protect your skin from sun damage and Don’t skip the sunscreen in wintertime
Image by Jeffrey Decoster

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