Seven Ways to Avoid Skin Cancer
A lifetime of exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and most of those cases are caused by Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation from the sun. The foundation adds that 90% of aging effects on skin (wrinkles, age spots, etc.) are also caused by sun exposure.
Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize your exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays and reduce your skin cancer risk.
1. Cover Up with Clothing. Long sleeves, long pants, or long dresses actually do help to prevent exposure to harmful solar radiation. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, synthetic fabrics such as polyester or rayon offer the most protection and light cotton fabrics offer the least. A little bit of shimmer help. Shiny clothes actually help reflect the suns harmful rays away from you. According to the American Cancer Society, some sun-protective clothing is labeled with an UV Protection Factor (UPF). The UPF ranges from 15 to 50+ with high factors offering the most protection. Brands like Coolibar offer very stylish lab tested clothing with a UPF of 50+.
2. Wear a Hat. A hat with a broad brim of 3 inches or more can help shade your face, neck, and shoulders from harmful solar radiation. If you want to protect yourself against the sun, dig out your Indiana Jones fedora, cowboy hat, or sombrero.
3. Wear Sunglasses. Sunglasses are also helpful in protecting against sun damage. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends over-sized sunglasses. Sunglasses that wrap closely around the face to protect your peripheral vision offer the best protection. When buying sunglasses, look for labels that indicate the shades meet ANSI standards or have UV absorption of up to 400 nanometers (nm). Such labels indicate that the sunglasses protect against 99% of UVA and UVB rays. Polarized glasses will help reduce glare.
4. Seek Shade. When you have the opportunity, take advantage of shade from trees, awnings, and umbrellas. All of these can help to block the sun. But, be aware that the sun's rays can be reflected towards you by water, sand, or even snow.
5. Avoid Peak Exposure Times. According to the American Cancer Society, the sun's ultra-violet rays are most intense when the sun is high in the sky between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You don't have to live like a vampire, but minimizing outdoor activities during the early afternoon hours can help to reduce your skin cancer risk.
6. Use sunscreen. The American Cancer Society recommends using sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Your sunscreen should also have an SPF of 30 or higher. You should check the expiration date on your bottle of sunscreen and shake up any bottle that has been sitting for a long time. Sunscreen bottles that have sat for a long time in a hot car may also lose effectiveness sooner.
7. Avoid Tanning Beds. According to the American Cancer Society, tanning beds are not a safe alternative to natural sunlight. Tanning beds radiate both UVA and UVB rays. Instead of using a tanning bed, the American Cancer Society recommends using a sunless tanning lotion to tan.
A few changes in your daily habits and attire can help you avoid a life threatening encounter with skin cancer. It's worth being smart about your time in the sun.