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Sun Protective Clothing

Shaun Hughes, the founder of Sun Precautions, answers questions about
the value of wearing clothes with a sun protective factor.

Shaun Hughes, Sun Precautions founder, image
Photo caption
Hughes knows how to protect his skin from the sun's rays.

Shaun Hughes loves traveling to sunny vacation spots like Hawaii and Australia. To help make sure he and other sun lovers can enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about skin cancer—a disease that will strike over 1 million Americans this year—he founded Sun Precautions (, a company that manufactures Solumbra clothing with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating.

Q What inspired you to go into the business of sun protection clothing?
A I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, when I was 26. I'm lucky to be alive.

Q Do regular hats and shirts block the sun?
A They do. But a cotton T-shirt may only provide the equivalent of an SPF of 4 to 9. Our clothing is rated at SPF 30 plus.

Q Do you still recommend wearing sunscreen?
A Studies in Australia have shown that wearing sunscreen reduces the risk of precancerous lesions. But sunscreen isn't perfect. It wears off and most people don't apply enough.

Q Are travelers especially vulnerable to damage from sun exposure?
A People who vacation in sunny places have a higher risk of melanoma. The danger seems to come from spending a lot of time inside, like a lot of us working stiffs do, then going on vacation to the beach or the ski slopes and getting intense bursts of sun exposure.

Q Have people gotten the message about the dangers of too much sun?
A We are more aware than we were when I was a kid. But that doesn't mean people aren't still getting sunburned. The incidence of melanoma has more than doubled over the past 30 years, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Photography courtesy of Sun Precautions

This article was first published in July 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.