As much as we love it, the sun is not our skin's friend. It causes premature aging and, worse, cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in a lifetime, and the majority of both skin cancer and melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) cases are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Lucky for us, skin cancer is predominately lifestyle related. We actually have the power to prevent skin cancer.
- Don’t tan. Tanning, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, is a sign of sun damage and can lead to skin cancer. If you’d like a bronzed look, there are good sunless options out there. Spray tanning is a quick, easy way to get complete, even coverage. Otherwise, invest in a good self tanner.
- The sun’s dangerous UVA and UVB rays go right through the clouds, so use protection every day. Just like brushing your teeth, make it part of your morning routine.
- Use “Broad Spectrum” SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Broad Spectrum means it protects from all the sun’s dangerous UVA and UVB rays. Those common daily moisturizers with SPF 15 are just not enough. Same goes for cosmetics containing sun protection. Use real sunscreen in addition to these.
- Make sure to cover the entire body with sunscreen on days when you will be out a lot. Clothes help to block the sun’s UV rays, but light summer clothes have lower protection than one might expect. Also look for clothing lines with built-in SPF, which are especially great for water activities.
- Put sunscreen on 30 minutes before going out and reapply it every 2 hours or even sooner if in water or sweating a lot.
- Wear a hat with a brim bigger than 3 inches, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Cover up and find shade during the sun’s prime time, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., if possible.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The Skin Cancer Foundation and its supporters, like , use this opportunity to build awareness about the dangers of the sun and tanning in hopes of reducing the effect of this lifestyle disease. Protecting yourself and your family could keep you all skin cancer-free for life.