While the death rates for many types of cancers are going down in this country, thanks to earlier detection and medical advances, melanoma or – skin cancer – is on the rise.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada affecting one in five people today. A "healthy tan" or "sun-kissed glow", especially among young people, is often associated with attractiveness, but there is no such thing as a "healthy" tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin. It's important to use sunscreen whenever you spend time in the sun, be it summer, fall, winter, or spring. Got health questions? We've got answers. Email us at email@example.com
Skin cancer facts:
- Melanoma is the most common and deadliest forms of cancer in young people (between the ages of 15 and 29).
- Using a tanning bed before the age of thirty-five increases your risk of developing skin cancer later in life by 75 per cent.
- UV rays from tanning beds can be five times stronger than the mid-day summer sun.
- Tanned skin is damaged skin (sun-burned skin is very damaged skin). Even when your tan fades, the damage is still there. While it’s wonderful to feel the warmth of the summer sun or enjoy a the outdoors on a bright sunny winter's day, there are always risks to sun exposure and it's important to use sunscreen year round.
Here are a few ways, recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, to protect yourself from sun damage year-round:
- The sun is most intense between 10 AM and 4 PM – so seek the shade between those hours.
- Do not let your skin get a sunburn, ever, no exceptions.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, year round on parts of your skin exposed to the sun.
- For extended outdoor activity, use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on exposed areas.
- In the summer months, apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. During the cooler months when you are mostly covered up, apply sunscreen to the exposed areas 30 minutes before going outside.
- Keep newborns out of the sun, their skin is especially fragile. Sunscreens can be used on babies, over the age of six months, but it's best to limit your baby's exposure to the sun.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month for suspicious moles or spots. Look for:
- Border irregularity
- Color change
- See a doctor regularly and speak up if something doesn't look or feel quite right.
- In the summer, if you are a beach-goer, remember the intensity of sun exposure is elevated at the beach. Both water and sand can reflect up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays. That said, beach and pool activities can be enjoyed safely as long as you take extra precautions and use plenty of sunscreen.
- For effective ultraviolent A (UVA) radiation protection, select products that have some combination of the following ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
- Everyday sun exposure counts. While we mostly think about protecting ourselves against the sun during the summer months, protection should be year round to reduce your lifetime sun exposure. So make putting on sunscreen a daily habit.
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