Safely having fun in the sun
It’s that time of year where everyone is having fun in the sun! But not all sun is fun. Whether you are hitting the beaches, pools, or sporting events, we need to keep one thing in mind: our skin’s health. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is on the rise and there are more cases diagnosed annually than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer cases combined.
Within the last week of July, the United States surgeon general issued a call to action to prevent the disease. They are calling it a major public health problem that requires immediate action. Nearly 5 million people are treated for different skin cancers each year. This number is said to increase by 200 percent in the next few years.
There are two fairly common types of skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports the basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer; an estimated 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the US. The squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, with which an estimated 700,000 individuals are diagnosed each year in the US. Another alarming statistic the foundation reports is between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once in their lives.
The third most common type of skin cancer according to the Department of Health and Human Services is melanoma. More than 63,000 cases are diagnosed a year, and an estimated 9,000 people are dying from it year to year. The National Cancer Institute reported that melanoma is the most common form of cancer in adults ages 25 to 29 and second most common for young adults aged 15 to 29.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing and using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 will reduce the risk of skin cancer.
This should be the most important statistic you read today. The risk of all forms of skin cancers can be reduced with the proper use of sunscreens! Yes, I said sunscreen. You should always consult your dermatologist about which sunscreens are best for you and your family.
What level of sunscreen should you use? As a general rule, SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. Doctors now typically recommend at least SPF 30, which differs from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ minimal recommendation of SPF 15. But remember: No sunscreen can offer 100 percent protection.
How should it be applied? Again, as a general rule, experts recommend applying two coats (one right after the other). Squeeze a line of lotion down your arms and legs and rub in, then do it again. You should see a white residue on the skin if applied correctly. Don’t forget your face, back, neck, and stomach if those areas are exposed to the sun. For best results, this process should be duplicated at least every 1-2 hours in the sun or in cloud cover.
If you’re not currently familiar with consumer reports, check out the following link for top rated sunscreens: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/sunscreens.htm
This consumer reports article reports the safety of spray sunscreens on your children: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/07/don-t-spray-sunscreens-on-kids-at-least-for-now/index.htm
Bottom line: Get educated on sunscreen and start using it properly and more often. The key words here are properly and more often. Here’s to having fun in the sun and reducing skin cancer.