Preventing Cancer: Sun Safety

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As devastating as skin cancer is, it is also one of the easiest types of cancer to take steps to prevent. Even though the sun helps to produce the vitamin D that your body needs, relying on sun exposure can be dangerous—especially because UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15minutes. Follow these tips for your whole family to do your best to prevent skin cancer:

  • Stay in the shade whenever possible. Find something like an umbrella or tree to sit on to avoid being directly in the sun.
  • Wear a hat with a two to three inch brim in order to shade your face, ears, and neck.
  • Choose your clothing carefully. Look for tightly woven fabrics. Some clothing even offers UV ray protection. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and skirts whenever possible.
  • Wear sunglasses. This will protect the tender skin around your eyes, and can also reduce your risk of cataracts.
  • Sunscreen is by far your most important step in sun protection—it works to scatter, absorb, or reflect sunlight. You should be using sunscreen all year, not just during warmer months or sunny days. Look for a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15, but preferably higher. Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin before you go outside, and then reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Always follow the instructions on the label of your sunscreen.
  • Apply sunscreen in the car too—some UV rays can pass through windows.
  • Choose lip balms, moisturizers, and other skin products that have added UV ray protection.
  • Stay away from tanning beds and sun lamps. These have damaging UV rays and can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Pay special attention to children. They are not always aware of the danger s of sun exposure and can burn easily. Teach them about the dangers of sun exposure, and keep babies younger than six months of age out of the sun whenever possible.