Summer is here, and as many people like to enjoy the outdoors, it is important to remember that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can increase the risk of developing sun-related skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More skin cancers are diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined. So what can you do to reduce your risk?
Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Skin Cancer
- Reduce your exposure to ultraviolet light—whether it’s from the sun or from tanning beds. Never seek the sun in your outdoor activities.
- Wear protective clothing, such as:
- Long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Swim shirts while swimming
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen even on cloudy days.
- An SPF of 30 is recommended, but higher numbers may be helpful for those with very light skin or will be outdoors for long periods.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply every two hours.
- Reapplication after swimming or sweating is important.
- Be sure to apply enough sunscreen. Don’t skimp!
- Seek shade when appropriate. Remember that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet and/or supplements as opposed to getting it from the sun.
*Protect your children from sunburns with the above tips. Burns from infancy through the teen years are particularly dangerous!
Keep in mind that these individuals are at a greater risk for developing skin cancer:
- If you have light skin and lots of moles
- If one or more of your first degree relatives (parent, sibling or child) has had a melanoma
A Note on Tanning Beds
Some tanning beds produce radiation of UVA and UVB rays that are ten times stronger than the rays from the natural sun. There is no safe amount of exposure. Tanning before vacations, for prom or social situations is very dangerous. Additionally, tanning beds may lead to premature wrinkles and age spots on skin, and damage to the eyes, resulting in early cataracts and even blindness.
Enjoy your summer, but STAY SUN SAFE!