Going sleeveless and wearing shorts may seem like a good way to beat the heat, but doctors warn that overexposure to sunrays could increase chances of skin cancer.
"Overexposure during the summer that is searing north India is harmful. It's could cause not just gastroenteritis, but also increase chances of skin cancer," cautioned Jyotsna Govil, joint secretary of the Indian Cancer Society.
AdvertisementShe said escaping rising temperatures and going to comparatively cooler cities was not really a way out.
"We Delhiites go out of the capital and bask in the sun in cooler cities. But spending time boating, bathing in open ponds and rivers is not good for the skin. Sunrays reflecting from the water are even more dangerous and helps the cause of skin cancer," Govil told IANS.
The problem, she stressed, was that people don't cover themselves properly in the summer.
Added Kusum Verma, a senior consultant at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here: "A lot of people in Australia and the US suffer from skin cancer due to overexposure to the sun. You may attract skin cancer in India due to the same syndrome."
"Rickshaw pullers, labourers and people spending a lot of time under sun are prone to such developments, but middle and upper class people should not feel complacent either," said Verma, a former head of Delhi Cancer Registry.
Adding his weight to the debate, Ramesh Sarin, senior oncologist at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said: "Though whites are more prone to skin cancer, yet repeated exposure to the sun on anybody is harmful.
"The repeated exposure affects the skin tissues and the worst time to get exposed is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m."
Sarin said: "The next time you move out of your home, make sure you are not half clad. The actinic rays of sun cause disintegration and decomposition of the skin tissues and we must take care of it."
After a relatively cool May, a relentless heat wave has been sweeping through much of the plains of north India with more than 120 people killed, including 29 in the capital Delhi.
Temperatures have been hitting 45 degrees Celsius in many cities. While Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan recorded nearly 48 degrees, the mercury climbed to a high of 44.9 degrees in the national capital June 9.