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One More Fried Thing to Avoid

sun safety

As the warm weather arrives, we tend to take our activities outside, spending time soaking up the sun.  Whether it’s a bike ride, leisurely stroll, pool time or simply lounging – we tend to overlook the potential for a deadly disease – with the longing for that golden brown tan. 

 

Did you know that skin cancer is actually the most common form of cancer?  More than 2 million individuals are diagnosed with skin cancers each year in the US – more than prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries, and pancreas cancers combined.

 

Unfortunately for me, skin cancer hits too close to home to forget my beloved SPF.  While the serious kind (melanoma) is included in that number, the most common types – basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas – are easily treatable AND highly preventable.

 

In honor of National Skin Cancer Awareness month, here are 5 tips for sun safety:

 

1. ALWAYS wear sunscreen.  One of the most effective ways to protect your skin from the suns’ UV rays is to wear sunscreen – everyday.  Many times we don’t plan for sun exposure, so it is important to put it on each morning.  Also, UV rays are still out there even when it’s cloudy.  Experts recommend products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.  Make sure you re-apply, every two hours, especially if you are swimming or sweaty.

 

2. Cover up.  Another way to protect your skin from harmful rays is to cover up.  Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your face, and sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes. If you can comfortably stand the heat, cover up with more clothing.  The ideal sun-protective fabrics are lightweight, comfortable, and protect against exposure even when wet.

 

3. Give yourself skin checks regularly.  Because the cells of some moles can turn into skin cancer, make it a habit to check for suspicious-looking moles on your body. If you’re not sure what to look for, follow the A,B,C,D,E rule which it tests for color, size, and appearance. Make an appointment with a dermatologist immediately if you find anything that seems off.

A for asymmetry: A mole that, when divided in half, doesn’t look the same on both sides.

B for border: A mole with edges that are blurry or jagged.

C for color: Changes in the color of a mole, including darkening, spread of color, loss of color, or the appearance of multiple colors such as blue, red, white, pink, purple or gray.

D for diameter: A mole larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.

E for elevation: A mole that is raised above the skin and has an uneven surface

 

4. Avoid tanning beds at all costs.  Recent research shows that using a tanning bed can triple your risk of skin cancer if used before your thirties.  Previously, skin cancer rates were highest in people over 75, but now doctors are seeing more and more cases in women in their 20s.  If you must have the sun-kissed glow, opt for sunless tanning lotions and sprays. 

 

5. Limit your sun exposure during the ‘intense midday hours’.  UV rays are most intense during the middle of the day, usually between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.  If you are planning to be outside during these times, stick to the shady routes or shield yourself with an umbrella.

 

If you practice these tips every day, it will decrease your risk for a cancer that hits more people than any other!  You may think because it is not the leading cause of cancer deaths, you don’t have to be worried, but trust me from personal experience – cancer is cancer no matter what type.  Celebrate Don’t Fry Day, next Friday May 28th by committing to practice sun safety.

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