By Janice Carter
The hat has once again emerged on the fashion scene and the reason may be due to the dramatic increase in the skin cancer known as melanoma, the deadliest of the known types of skin cancer.
Prior to 1950, melanoma was rarely diagnosed. In recent years, this disease has had a dramatic increase in the under 40 age group. It appears that the years of enjoying the sun, during the warmer months, without wearing a hat has taken its toll on our health and we have finally realized the functional purpose of the hat.
Scientist had predicted for many years, that the effect of increasing uv rays reaching the earth, due to the hole in the ozone layer, would have a wide scale effect upon the human immune system and a devastating effect on the skin. Clinical studies have shown that overexposure to the sun may take years to show up with the effects being in the form of premature aging, age or liver spots and/or skin cancer.
Wearing a hat, that provides shade for your face, neck and ears, can play a major part in the prevention of the effects of the sun upon the skin. The American cancer Society and the Skin Cancer Institute suggest that a hat brim of 2 to 4 inches will provide adequate shade from the sun -
but a wider brim may prove to be better protection for those who have all ready experienced some form of skin cancer. For a hat to provide maximum protection from the sun, it should be one of a tightly woven material, which is usually straw or cloth.
Hats made specifically for sun protection -- such as the legionnaires hat, the safari hat, the outback hat -- have been around for years and were created to protect the head and facial area from the sun. Most of us associated these hats with specific occupations and geographical locations with hotter climates. Now we know that geography no longer plays a part in whether we actively practice adequate sun protection. The excuses, we used in the past, to justify not wearing a hat are no longer valid. As we continue to erode the ozone layer with hydrocarbons and fossil fuel emissions, uv rays will continue to increase and we will see an even greater rise in the number of people with skin cancer. It no longer matters whether hats are in style or not. Wearing a hat has now become an investment in our future well-being.