As the summer season approaches, it is important to remember the importance of sun safety. Not only can overexposure to the sun cause discomfort and sunburns, but it can also lead to skin cancer, one of the most common types of cancer in the world. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. This is why practicing sun safety is crucial for cancer prevention.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes damage to the DNA in skin cells. Over time, this damage can build up and potentially lead to skin cancer. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types, and while they are less dangerous than melanoma, they still require treatment and can lead to disfigurement if left untreated.
Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, accounting for the majority of skin cancer deaths. It can spread to other parts of the body and is more difficult to treat. However, all three types of skin cancer are preventable, and practicing sun safety can significantly reduce an individual’s risk of developing it.
So, what does sun safety entail? The American Cancer Society recommends protecting oneself from the sun by seeking shade during peak hours (10am-4pm), wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and hats, using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating, and avoiding tanning beds.
It’s also important to note that skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of skin color. While individuals with fair skin, red or blonde hair, and blue or green eyes are at a higher risk, individuals with darker skin tones or who tan easily are still susceptible to skin cancer.
It’s never too late to start practicing sun safety. While it is important to enjoy outdoor activities and sunshine, it is equally important to protect oneself from the sun’s harmful rays. By taking preventative measures, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing skin cancer and ultimately lead a happier, healthier lifestyle.