Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer
May is National Skin Cancer Prevention Month which is appropriate because many of us have been starting to participate in more outdoor activities. Each year more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. A recent study shows that skin cancer is more common in young women mainly due to tanning. However, skin cancer can happen to anyone, at any age. Although skin cancer is common, there is some good news. Skin cancer is mainly categorized as a “lifestyle disease” which means it can be prevented. To enjoy what the sun has to offer without risking your heath, follow these simple tips.
Use sunscreen. Use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher daily. If used correctly, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 would prevent sunburn 15 times longer than if the product weren’t used. Higher SPF should be used by people who burn easier and children.
Do not burn. Did you know….that even one sunburn in your lifetime increases the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer? Five or more sunburns doubles your lifetime risk. Avoid spending long periods in the sun and when you see your skin start to redden, seek shelter. Also, as mentioned above use sunblock!
Seek shade. Between 10am-4pm is when the sun’s rays are usually strongest. If you’re outside for long periods of time head to the shade, either under a tree, umbrella, pavilion etc. Use the early morning or late afternoon to do your favorite outdoor activities when the sun’s rays are not as strong.
Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Even occasional sunbed use almost triples your chances of developing melanoma. Usually every tanning salon offers spray tanning. Spray tanning does not use any UV rays; it is a safe spray that goes onto your body. If you are looking for a tan, do it the safe way and get a spray tan.
Examine your skin once every month. In a full length mirror inspect your skin head to toe. Cancer warning signs include: a spot that is sore or continues to itch or bleed, a mole or beauty mark that changes colors, increases in size is bigger than 6mm and appears after the age of 21.
Last but not least, see your physician every year for a skin care exam. Regular full body checkups are the best way to make sure your skin is healthy and stays that way.
Follow the previous safety tips and you can enjoy the outdoors while reducing the sun’s dangers. For more information on skin cancer and safety tips visit the skin cancer foundations website: http://www.skincancer.org/