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Safe in the Sun

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Once the fashion was to have pale, delicate-looking skin, which proved that one did not labor in the fields all day but rather was above that sort of thing. Then came the suntan to prove the exotic location of one’s vacation, and the suntan instantly became a status symbol. Now, it turns out that this status symbol, along with its lethal counterpart smoking (once considered fashionable), causes cancer.

In SAFE IN THE SUN, Siegel provides chapters detailing the skin’s composition, the effects of the sun on it, the different types of skin cancers that can result, and the treatments for those cancers. Siegel also includes a section on how to care for the skin to keep it looking its healthiest.

One difficulty the reader faces is that of identification of possible cancers or precancers. Although diagnosis and treatment are best left to trained professionals, photographs of the more common types of warning signs might have proved useful. As Siegel emphasizes, timely recognition of the problem and early treatment are the surest ways to prevent complications. Her suggestion of photographing all moles every six months to keep an objective record of them seems one of the best ways to ensure early enough warning of any changes.

Siegel has included the addresses of organizations to contact for more information on specific topics (such as the brand names of sunscreens recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and how to find a dermatologist) as well as references, a glossary, and an index. This book is especially useful for those with the most vulnerable types of skin, although it is best read in small doses—to prevent the sort of paranoia that Siegel herself describes as common on learning about all the dangers that human skin is exposed to over the years.