Melanoma Risks & Sun Safety
Every year, American doctors diagnose more cases of skin cancer than they do cancers of the prostate, breast, colon, and lung combined. To minimize your risk, learn the facts about melanoma and sun safety.
Despite continuing efforts to educate the public, many people still underestimate the consequences of sun exposure. The following facts shed light on the serious risks associated with sunlight:
- Over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated every year in the U.S.
- One person dies of melanoma cancer every hour.
- Twenty percent of all Americans will develop skin cancer in their lives.
- The risk of melanoma doubles if a person has had more than five sunburns.
- Regular daily use of an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen cuts the risk of melanoma in half.
Reducing Your Risk
While you should avoid the sun every day of the year, it's especially important to use caution during the summer, when the sun is stronger and the days are longer. The following tips can help you minimize your risk of developing UV-related skin cancers:
- Cover up. You can reduce your sun exposure by wearing wide-brimmed hats and loose, lightweight clothing. You should also shield your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Seek the shade. UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must be outdoors during these times, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Avoid tanning beds. Sunlamps and tanning beds both cause serious skin damage that can lead to skin cancer.
- Slather on the sunscreen. Make sure you reapply sunscreen every two hours, as well as after heavy sweating or swimming.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen
When choosing a sunscreen, make sure to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Choose a sunscreen with “broad-spectrum” protection against both UVB and UVA rays.
- Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
It's also important to remember that while some sunscreens may say "water-resistant" on their labels, this does not mean they are waterproof. If you go swimming, you will need to dry off and reapply your sunscreen, regardless of any statements made on the product's label.