Skin Cancer Prevention

Most cases of skin cancer are preventable. By practicing sun safety and avoiding the use of tanning beds, you can prevent skin cancer in yourself and your children. Remember:

  • Sunburns, especially in childhood, show a strong correlation with the development of melanoma and basal cell carcinoma later in life.
  • A single severe sunburn in childhood can double a person’s risk of developing melanoma.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma appears to be related to cumulative sun exposure. This is true even on a low dose basis. Even if there is no visible burn, there is still a risk.
  • The use of artificial tanning beds has been linked to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Practice sun safety with the following:

  1. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or whenever the UV Index* is 3 or higher
  2. Cover up. Cover arms and legs with loose-fitting, tightly woven and lightweight clothing.
  3. Wear a wide-brim hat to protect head, face, neck and ears.
  4. Stay in the shade. Look for places with lots of shade, like a park with big trees, partial roofs, awnings, umbrellas or gazebo tents. Always take an umbrella to the beach.
  5. Wear sunglasses. A UV protection of 400 blocks 99% of UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound styles wrap to protect the sides of the eyes.
  6. Avoid indoor tanning. There is no such thing as a ‘healthy’ tan. Tanning equipment can increase the risk of developing melanoma by 59% if the age of first exposure was prior to 35 years of age
  7. Use the UV Index forecast. When the UV index is 3 or higher, wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. [1]

When exposed to the sun:

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Put sunscreen on when the UV index is 3 or higher. Use sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant” with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Apply generously at least 15 minutes before going into the sun.[2]
  • Reapply every 2-3 hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Alternate the application of sunscreen with the application of bug sprays.
  • Be sure to wear sunscreem under the edges of your clothing, the back of your neck, your ears and other places that are often missed or forgotten.
  • Drink plenty of cool liquids (especially water) before you feel thirsty. If sunny days are also hot and humid, stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat illness. Dehydration is dangerous, and thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration. [3]
Use these precautions all year, not just in the summertime. The sun’s rays can reflect off of snow, sand, water and even concrete.