June is Cancer from the Sun Month
After only 15 minutes your skin can experience damage from the sun’s rays. Skin cancer rates have steadily increased in the United States every year and it is by far the most common cancer in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society (@AmericanCancer), 5.4 million people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer each year and 3.3 million of them are Americans. While these statistics are shocking, there are steps you can and should take to lower your risk of this disease. Do a quick search on the internet and you will find all kinds of tips and advice to help you stay sunburn free. Below is some of the best advice from the American Cancer Society and the CDC (@CDCgov).
Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!
This is the slogan the American Cancer Society uses as part of it’s campaign for skin cancer prevention. This slogan highlights the top four ways to prevent skin damage from the sun. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes and sensitive skin around them. The society uses this simple message to promote prevention through media and educational activities. Tweet This
Slip on a shirt
Tightly woven long sleeves and long pants are really the best type of protective clothing to wear when ou are going to be in the sun for long hours. However, most of us either choose not to wear or would be uncomfortable in such garb on the beach, by the lake, or anywhere outside on a mid summer’s day. The CDC says a t-shirt or beach cover up will suffice, but just know that your run of the mill tee has an SPF rating lower than 15 so be sure to combine this preventative with others as well.
Slop on sunscreen
Don’t be shy, slather and slop on a high quality sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before you go out into the sun. Sunscreen should even be used on cloudy or overcast days. Be sure to cover you entire body, not just your face, and even parts covered with clothing or bathing suits. While this seems like an obvious tip, the CDC reports that fewer than 15% of men and fewer than 30% of women report regularly using sunscreen when outside for more than an hour. If you’re worried about the nasty chemicals and additives some sunscreen brands contain, check out the EWG’s 2016 Guide to Sunscreens (@ewg) list for the best and safest sunscreens on the market.
Slap on a hat
The best advice here is to choose a tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, for your hat, with a brim that goes all the way around to protect not only your face, but your ears and back of your neck as well. Once again not the most practical, or for that matter stylish, tip when gallivanting on the beach. If you choose fashion over prevention with a cute straw number or a hip ball cap, be sure to make up for your poor decision by either covering the exposed areas with more clothing and/or sunscreen or by relaxing under a nice tree or fancy umbrella in the shade.
Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes and sensitive skin around them
Finally, a tip that most of us don’t have to worry about because we do it regardless of safety. Wear shades! While this may seem completely straightforward, there are some requirements from the CDC on the type of glasses you wear but fortunately they are easy to meet and don’t get in the way of vanity. The CDC suggests sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays for the best protection and once again, jackpot, most sunglasses sold in the United States meet this requirement! Even better, for you sporty types, wrap around sunglasses provide the best protection because the harmful rays can’t sneak in the sides. So whether you’re the Jackie O. type or Bono, rock those shades and protect yourself!
In addition to the prevention tips above, the ACS also recommends limiting the amount of time you spend in direct sun, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. And finally, most skin cancers can be found early on with regular skin exams. It is important to check your skin once a month and you can find out the best way to do this by following the ACS’s step-by-step instructions. It is also important for your doctor to check your skin for irregularities. Regular skin exams are especially important for people who are at higher risk of skin cancer, such as people with reduced immunity, people who have had skin cancer before, and people with a strong family history of skin cancer.