Summer Sun

Summer is here, and with that brings more outdoor time in the hot sun. Although sun exposure to some extent can be good for us, when it comes to helping us make Vitamin D, too much time in the sun without protection can be harmful. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Each year there are 3.5 million skin cancers diagnosed in the United States, which is more than all other cancers combined.

So how do we protect ourselves and our families? Well, there are several steps that can be taken to help decrease your risk of skin cancer. First, you should use a broad spectrum sunscreen that has at least 30 SPF to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Don’t skimp on the application either! One ounce, about a palmful should be used to cover your legs, arms, neck, and face. Use more to get your ears and feet and any other exposed skin. Reapply every two hours or sooner if you are in and out of water. Make sure to check the expiration date on your sunscreen as well. Throw it out if it is 2 years or older. Another step you can take is to wear a hat. This is especially important if you have thinning hair or are bald. Make sure to protect your eyes too by wearing sunglasses. If you are spending all day outside, spending some time in the shade or covering up during the day is wise, especially between 10am to 4pm. And, although we all want a golden tan, tanning beds and lamps should not be used.

No one is immune to skin cancer, but you’ll need to take extra precautions if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have natural blonde or red hair
  • You have freckles
  • You have fair skin
  • You have a lot of moles, or large or irregularly shaped moles
  • You have had a lot of sunburns and burn before tanning
  • You have a condition that lowers your immune system
  • You have had skin cancer before
  • You have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
  • You spend a lot of time outdoors
  • You live or travel to hot climates or high altitudes
  • You take medications that make you sensitive to light

Learn more at http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer/index.

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