An Open Letter to Tom Brady: What you need to know about sunburn and water

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Dear Tom Brady,

With all due respect, please don’t confuse drinking water with preventing sunburn.

Is it true that you wrote in your new book that the reason you rarely get sunburn is because of your huge intake of water —around two-and-a-half gallons?

According to Sports Illustrated, you stated in your book, “These days, even if I get an adequate amount of sun, I won’t get a sunburn, which I credit to the amount of water I drink.” Did you write that? Please explain because there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support your statement.

Recently, it caused a stir on Twitter. Do you believe water can prevent sunburn or did you write that to get people talking? Or tweeting? After all, would anyone tweet the reason you rarely get sunburn is because you wear sunscreen?

Here are some guiding principles that can help protect you from sunburn and guiding principles on hydration.

The guiding principles to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Avoid the sun and seek shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen. SPF 30 or higher and water resistant. Broad-spectrum protects against UVA and UVB rays. Use sunscreen in the winter as well. The snow can reflect the damaging rays.
  • Wear clothing that covers the skin with UV protection.
  • Wear sunglasses that block UVA & UVB rays.
  • Wear wide brim hats.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds can cause cancer and wrinkle the skin.

The guiding principles to stay hydrated:

  • Drink water. It’s essential for good health. It’s good for your skin and can help lubricate and cushion joints, protects sensitive tissues, keeps your temperature normal, and gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that general recommendations for an adequate daily fluid intake is:

Women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water from all beverages and foods.

Men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.

  • Foods with high water content include, melons, broth soups, celery, and tomatoes—all can contribute to fluid intake.
  • You may need to modify your intake of water depending on your daily activity, level of exercise, weather and overall health.

Mr. Brady, we know you’re not average—you’re a pro football player— so your hydration levels may be different from the average male. However, when it comes to the powerful rays of the sun, can drinking huge amounts of water offer protection from the sun?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) website, it simply states that if you aren’t protected with sunscreen, clothes or get too much sun, your skin can tan or burn. Melanin is the reason why some people burn or tan. Melanin gives the skin its color. “Your body normally makes melanin to try to protect the deeper layers of your skin from damage.”

I’m curious — Why do you think drinking huge amounts of water can protect you from the sun?

Even if you have naturally dark skin or never burn and always tan, that still means the sun is damaging your skin. And you can still get skin cancer and wrinkles some day. (Source: AAD)

Exposure to UV rays

Exposure to UV rays is a major risk factor for most melanomas and sunlight is the main source of UV rays. That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself. Water isn’t going to protect you from the potentially deadly rays. Even if you don’t sunburn, it’s still possible to get skin cancer. Did you know, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States?

“Roughly 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.” (Source: International Journal of Molecular Sciences)

“One American dies from skin cancer every hour. Unprotected exposure to UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.” (Source: EPA)

Health Information

Misinformation can spread like wildfire. As an athlete and influencer, you touch many lives. It’s important that the information you share is accurate. Sharing accurate health information can be beneficial to your fans and the general public.

And, please remember to follow the guiding principles above to protect you from the UV rays of the sun.

Thank you.


Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

(Please note, I haven’t read your book, so perhaps you referenced the above information.)


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