3 Summertime Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer
Summer is upon us, which means outdoor activities, and (hopefully) a whole lot of sunshine. If you’re going to spend time outside this summer, there are a couple things to think about: Preventing sunburns, for one. And, skin cancer.
The sun can do a lot more damage than just cause sunburn; it is also responsible for brown spots (age spots), wrinkles, and worst of all, a variety of deadly cancers. These skin cancers can be caused by excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and, it is on the rise – the frequency with which it is being diagnosed is rapidly increasing. Clearly, it’s a good idea to reduce your exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
The following tips can help you keep your skin youthful, attractive, and most important, cancer free.
- Cover up
To completely avoid the sun would be undesirable, if not impossible. You can, however, minimize the danger it poses by keeping your skin covered.
The sun’s UV rays are a primarily cause of skin damage. Although people often expose themselves to sunshine to get a “healthy tan,” this is actually the body’s response to being harmed. It is a normal physiological response, in that, injury has occurred, and as a protective measure the body releases melanin, making the skin tone darker. By covering up with a lightweight garment, you can protect your skin from premature aging, and cancer. Cover as much exposed skin as reasonably possible, and always wear a hat with a brim.
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and use it correctly
Both UVA and UVB are cancer-causing, yet different types of radiation. While UVA rays do not cause sunburns, the EPA estimates 90% of skin changes are caused by this spectrum. A broad- or multi-spectrum sunscreen will block both. Today, it’s possible to get excellent protection by using a high SPF, and broad-spectrum sunscreens.
Sunscreen should be liberally applied to any exposed skin. It is also important to re-apply after swimming, or sweating. Be sure to read, and follow directions carefully.
In addition to sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses should also be worn. They are both susceptible to cancers, as well.
- Avoid tanning beds
Many people are unaware of the risks associated with tanning beds. Indoor tanning equipment produces both UVA and UVB rays. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC, acknowledges indoor tanning poses a very serious health risk, and has categorized it as “carcinogenic to humans.” (Formerly, artificial tanning beds were in the “thought to be carcinogenic to humans” category.)
As part of the World Health Organization, the IARC published a report which found evidence of: “the risk of melanoma of the skin increasing by 75 percent when tanning bed use started before age 35,” as published in an article titled, “Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet radiation,” by the U.S. food and drug administration. Please note: That is a 75% risk! Needless to say, never allow children to use indoor tanning equipment.
From the American Cancer Society comes a firm warning: “Many of the more than 2 million skin cancers that are diagnosed annually could be prevented by protecting skin from excessive sun exposure and avoiding indoor tanning.” – Cancer Facts and Figures, 2013.
With skin cancer rates sharply on the rise, it stands to reason that the threat is real. However, you can reduce your risk by limiting exposure to the sun, and taking preventative measures when necessary. If you’re heading to the beach or participating in other outdoor activities this summer, always protect your skin from the sun. You’ll be glad you did.