Summer Fun and Skin Cancer Prevention

We feel healthier, happier, and have more fun

As summer approaches, most of us plan to take advantage of outdoor recreational activities. We feel healthier, happier, and have more fun outside during the sunny, summer months.

However, there is a hazard : the sun can be a dangerous source of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in the form of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Thus it is imperative to protect your skin from any potential skin damage.

Cancers are affecting otherwise healthy people

Skin cancers are affecting otherwise healthy people at an increasingly alarming rate.

From 2001 to 2010, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that melanoma (only one of several types of skin cancer, but by far the deadliest) has “increased significantly by 1.6% per year among men”.

Also has “increased significantly by 1.4% per year among women.”

Skin cancer organization recently published

A respected skin cancer organization recently published an article which estimates the United States saw an increase.  There were approximately 76,690 new cases melanoma in 2013.

The report estimates that almost 10,000 people died from melanoma alone in 2013.

Although skin cancer is sharply on the rise, there is good news. Preventative measures are available to anyone willing to use common sense and employ a few basic strategies.

These measures will not only help your skin stay taught and healthy looking. But more importantly, they will reduce the risks of common forms of skin cancers.

Additionally, they will protect you from the deadliest form of skin cancer – melanoma.

Cover exposed skin

beach-sand-chairs

All the comfort you’ll need

When people head into sunny weather for recreational activities. One of the last things they often consider is to bring clothing that protects them from the sun.

When shade is unavailable, such as rafting a river or hiking through a treeless desert. Protective clothing is the most effective means of protecting your skin from sun damage.

Bring a wide-brimmed hat, a (light) long sleeved shirt, and pants that fully cover your legs – and don’t forget your feet!

They need protection, too. Depending on the type of shoes you wear, your feet are as vulnerable to sunburn as any other body part.

Stay in the shade

Especially during the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, a shady area is not only the most comfortable environment, it is also the safest.

A significant reduction of skin cancer risk can be achieved by seeking shade during these hours. The amount of UV radiation is at its most intense from 10:00 to 4:00, so avoid direct sunlight if possible.

 

Use Broad Spectrum SPF Sunscreen

Broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreens are widely available in a variety of sun protection factors (SPF). Use a minimum of SPF 15 unless you’re a fair-skinned person who burns easily.  In which case an SPF 30 is more appropriate. SPF 30 is also recommended for use on your face.

Liberally apply at least one ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of sunscreen about 30 minutes before exposing skin to the sun. Reapply every 2 hours, after swimming, excessive sweating, or toweling off.

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to areas often overlooked: feet, ears, lips, backs of hands, bald or balding areas on the head, etc.

 

Scan your body for irregularities

When melanomas are detected early, the prognosis for long-term survival is excellent, emphasizing the need for early detection. Therefore, you should perform a monthly scan of your skin from head to toe.

It’s not enough to scan for moles: the best method of early detection is to draw a diagram of any irregularities. Map out where they are, as well as their shape and size. Be especially aware of any changes that occur.

As well as a full-length mirror, use a hand-held mirror to examine your back, buttocks, and the backs of your legs. Examine the soles of your feet and even genitals for any abnormalities.

If you suspect any unusual changes in skin condition, immediately consult a physician.

Protect children

Although children rarely contract skin cancer, it is during childhood that they accumulate a significant percentage of lifetime UV radiation exposure.

Therefore, the most important consideration is that of your children – it’s at this early stage that you’re able to instill in them the habit of protecting their skin from damage: skin damage that could lead to cancers later in life.

According to the CDC, persons who experience blistering sunburn more than once early in life are more vulnerable to developing basil cell carcinoma, and they double the odds of a future melanoma.

Use a high SPF sunscreen at all times on your kids, and explain the importance of protecting them from overexposure to the sun.

Sun’s ultraviolet radiation

Unfortunately, exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is responsible for more than just skin cancer. At least 90 percent of skin damage is a direct result of exposure to the sun.

It causes wrinkles, sagging, and an overall appearance of premature aging. This is all preventable with a little forethought and precaution. Take care of your skin: protecting it from UV radiation can help prevent skin cancer, but protection from the sun will also keep your skin looking youthful!

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