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Sun Exposure While Driving Makes Left Side of the Face Look Older New Study Reveals

by kelly / May, 18 2016 01:30
Truck driver whose left side of his face had increased sun exposure
A truck driver whose left side had increased sun exposure through the driver's side window © New England Journal of Medicine

Are you putting the left side of your face in danger every time you get into the car? Very likely according to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) - Ophthalmology. The study found that driver's side windows let a lot of UVA rays through.

What do UVA rays do? They cause skin aging, skin spots, sunburn, cataracts and even skin cancer. But don't fret, there are easy ways to keep your skin looking great.

Findings: Skin Cancer and Age Spots more Likely on the Left Side of the Face

The study was the initiated by Brian Boxer Wachler, MD after he noticed that one of his patients had more age spots on the left side of her cheek. Dr. Boxer Wachler told Yahoo Beauty:

"I found many studies that found more skin cancer on the left side of the face compared to the right side of the face. In Australia, where people drive on the left side of the road, it's just the opposite - there is more skin cancer on the right side of the face."

Side Windows Block Less UVA Rays

The good news - the front windshield blocked 96% of UVA rays (they didn't test UVB rays which also cause skin aging and damage).

The bad news - the driver's side window blocked only 71% of UVA rays. On top of this, only 14% of the cars studied (four out of 29) had side windows that prevented more than 90% of UVA radiation from coming through.

High End Cars and Tinted Windows Don't Help

Lest you think a fancy car might protect you, listen to what Dr. Boxer Wachler has to say:

"There was no relationship between high-end cars and low-end cars for side-window UV protection - in other words, many more-expensive cars had just as poor side-window UV protection as more-affordable cars," he explains. "We also found tinted windows do not guarantee full UV protection, since a number of tinted windows had low UV protection."

How to Protect the Left Side of the Face

Ok that's definitely some pretty scary findings but all is not lost for the left side of your face! There are few options for protecting your left side:

  1. Wear sunscreen/sunblock! Consider keeping a bottle of sunscreen readily available in your car.
  2. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  3. Add a UV-blocking clear film on your car's side windows to protect you and your children in the back seats

Wrapping It Up

Despite the dangers protection isn't too difficult. Some sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses will go a long way and if you are really concerned, a UV-blocking film can be applied to your windows.

So the next time you step into your car - don't just think about your destination, think about protecting your skin.

Study Design

The study analyzed 29 cars from 15 different auto manufacturers. The car years ranged from 1990 to 2014 with an average make year of 2010. For each car the study measured the outside ambient UVA radiation, along with UVA radiation behind the front windshield and behind the driver’s side window.

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