Photo shows a 92-year-old woman that didn't apply sunscreen to her neck for 40 years

Your call to take applying sunscreen seriously.
Mert Erdemir
Cheek and neck of a 92-year-old woman.
Cheek and neck of a 92-year-old woman.


Although the Sun is indispensable for life on Earth, it is undeniable that it can cause catastrophic effects on our skins when exposed for a long time.

Applying sunscreen is essential to eradicate possible adverse outcomes, and yes, we should apply it not only to our faces but to every area that can be exposed. A photograph posted by Dr. Avi Bitterman, a dermatologist in New York, on Twitter demonstrates the reason why.

The photo shows a 92-year-old woman who applied sunscreen to her face but not on her neck for more than 40 years, and the difference is utterly striking.

The tweet went viral shortly after it was posted.

Proving the importance of sun protection

The image was first included in a paper on skin cancer and aging to demonstrate the significance of sun protection in October 2021 in The Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

Skin, as an organ, can be directly influenced by external factors like UV light, which is an invisible form of radiation. Emitted by the Sun and artificial sources like tanning beds, UV light can harm skin cells and result in permanent discoloration and wrinkles.

UV exposure is relatively preventable and can lead to skin cancer, which is "by far" the most common type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone, except for babies younger than six months, should apply sunscreen and wear a hat to prevent sun damage.

Skin that looks older is frequently the result of cell damage, which increases a person's risk of getting cancer. Therefore, preventing aging is also linked to preventing cancer. Although it can never completely reduce the risk of cancer, doctors agree that it is a strong justification for applying sunscreen below the neckline.

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"Although it is unlikely that we can (or even should) strive to defeat human aging for various reasons, a change in aging can still change both in health expectancy and life expectancy," Dr. Christian Fuchs told The Jerusalem Post.

"Such progress will be realized by a significant reduction of age-related diseases, including the prevention of cancer," he continued. "Why? Because there is a substantial overlap between cancer and aging. Therefore, addressing the biological changes of aging should also address the preconditions of cancer."

Given that sunscreen only becomes active after about fifteen minutes, sunscreen should be applied to the skin before exposure to the Sun, and it needs to be reapplied every two hours.

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