“We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.” -Anonymous
May is skin cancer awareness month and it’s always good to be informed. We all go outside to enjoy the sun and knowing the risks is half the battle. The skin is the single largest organ in the body. And because of this, we need to take steps to protect it.
Here are some facts you should be aware of when thinking about skin cancer:
- According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 90% of aging is caused by the sun
- People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24% less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily
- Sun damage is considered a cumulative effect and by age 18 the average person in the US has been exposed to about 23% of lifetime exposure
- The number of reported skin cancer instances has risen 300% since 1994
- You are more likely to develop skin cancer than dropping your phone in the toilet
- Contrary to popular belief darker skin tones are still susceptible to skin cancer
What causes skin cancer?
When exposed to UV rays some molecules can become free radicals, eventually lead to skin cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, “Too much UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds can damage the genetic material (the DNA) in your skin cells. If enough DNA damage builds up over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer. “
What can we do about it?
Luckily skin cancer is preventable. Since its inception back in 1979, the Skin Cancer Foundation has created a list of how to protect yourself against skin cancer. Here are their top recommendations:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
- Cover upwith clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreenwith an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin...head-to-toe every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
This is an issue that affects everyone from all walks of life. Some of the facts on here are scary, but it’s good to know there is something you can do about it. Keep these suggestions in mind to keep you and your loved ones safe from the dangers of skin cancer.
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