Sun Safety – Steps to Skin Cancer Prevention

As the sunshine lures us outdoors this spring, a little refresher on sun safety may be in order.  Scientists learn new things about cancer every day and yet still no medical professional can say with complete certainly how or why someone gets most types of cancer.  However, more than any other form of cancer, we know that the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer.  In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, three and a half million people in the U.S. alone suffer from skin cancer and 90% of it is caused by ultraviolet rays.  Plus, the sun is also the number one cause of premature skin aging including wrinkles, sagging and hyperpigmentation. 

Sometimes our health is out of our control, but when it comes to skin cancer, there are certain ways to assist skin cancer prevention.  The best way we can protect ourselves from skin cancer is to practice sun safety.  That means not to over-expose yourself to the sun, always wear sunscreen, wear protective clothing, ensure your skin does not burn and avoid tanning beds and booths.  Additionally, you should have a yearly skin check-up just as you would for the rest of your health. 

Skin tanning is the body’s way of naturally protecting itself from UV damage.  Skin darkens as a barrier to prevent further damage.  This process, especially when experienced repeatedly, can cause skin cell mutations that lead to skin cancer.  Tanning beds increase the risk of various types of carcinoma and melanoma, especially among young people.  Additionally, every time the skin is burnt, whether from natural sunlight or artificial tanning, the risk of skin cancer increases. 

The sun is the brightest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  During this time, try to stay in the shade of a covered awning, umbrella or tree.  Take advantage of cooler temperatures in the morning and late afternoon to avoid this peek midday sun.  If you do need to be out during intense sunlight, wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.  Many clothes now offer UPF (ultraviolet protection factor).  Also wear hats to shade the head, face, ears and neck, and sunglasses for your eyes. 

Sunscreen is vital for skin cancer prevention year round, even on overcast days.  Ensure you are wearing waterproof broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection to defend against long wave and short wave rays that are both damaging.  Always wear at least SPF15, which blocks 93% of UVB rays.  For more protection, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.  Never go higher than SPF50 as formulas can be imbalanced after that point and give a false sense of protection.  Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going out in the sun.  Reapply every hour-and-a-half to two hours.  Don’t forget your sunscreen on reflective surfaces that can magnify ultraviolet rays up to 80%.  We recommend using a natural sunscreen or mineral sunscreen prior to Natura Veda’s Daily Moringa-Infused Moisturizing Cream.

Much like breast cancer and other health conditions, you should check your body regularly to see if anything is out of the ordinary.  Be sure to look at every inch of your body, from your scalp and fingernails, to your back and soles of your feet.  Ask someone to help you examine hard-to-reach places.  Skin cancer may begin as spots or sores on the skin that are painful, itchy and don’t go away.  Also, moles or brown spots that change color, texture, size or that appears suddenly could be cancerous.  Either at your annual check-up or during a special yearly visit, have a doctor check your body for potential skin problems. 

Spring is a time to enjoy parks, beaches and outdoor activities.  Each of these things can be harmless if you practice sun safety for skin cancer prevention.  Take control of your risk and always play it safe.

Erin Stieglitz
Erin Stieglitz