How much of a problem is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. It can affect young adults and strikes people in middle and higher incomes more frequently. In the early part of this decade, Idaho ranked 10th highest in the U.S. for deaths caused by melanoma, a skin cancer largely caused by too much time in the sun. Over a five year period, there were 218 deaths in Idaho from melanoma and nearly 1,600 cases of invasive melanoma. There are so many great outdoor opportunities in Idaho. We all need to think about covering up from the sun so that we can enjoy them safely.
Who is at risk?
Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun's UV rays in as little as 15 minutes.
Fair-skinned people are in general at higher risk for developing skin cancer. However, anyone who spends time in the sun unprotected can be harmed by UVA and UVB rays. People who work inside all week and play outside on the weekend tend to have a higher risk, because they are less likely to take precautions. Every time we sunburn, our risk for developing skin cancer rises.
How do I prevent sun damage?
UV protection should be an everyday routine for children and adults who spend time outdoors. And it’s easy.
· Plan your days. Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. UV rays do not correspond to heat---they can be just as harmful on cool days as hot days.
· Cover up. Wear wide brimmed hats, long sleeves and long pants.
· Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Remember to put it on 30 minutes before you go outside, and don’t forget to apply it to the ears and top of feet.
· Sunglasses are important, especially for children. UV protection for your child’s eyes may help avert cataract problems later in life.
Also, remember to check your skin regularly. Early detection is vital in treating skin cancers. For more information how to do that, visit www.cancer.org.
Is this important?
Damage from the sun is cumulative and early prevention of sunburns can help protect against serious health problems later on. We need to protect our children and ourselves. For most of us, staying inside during the summer simply isn’t an option. By routinely exercising a few sun-safe habits, we can have fun and stay healthy, too.
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