With over 5 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is America’s most common cancer. Fortunately, it is also highly preventable. The better we understand this common form of cancer, the better we can avoid it. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
What are the main skin cancer risk factors?
Factors that can contribute to the development of skin cancer over time include:
Unprotected Exposure to UVA & UVB Rays
Any time you are outdoors, even driving in your car, you are vulnerable to damaging rays.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, there is no such thing as a safe tanning bed or lamp. In fact, just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent, and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent.1
Along with accelerating skin aging, sun damage is responsible for most cases of basal and squamous cell carcinomas as well as the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. Research shows that the UV rays that damage skin can also alter a tumor-suppressing gene, giving injured cells less chance to repair before progressing to cancer. Even one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence cam more than double your chance of developing melanoma later in life.
By now you know if you burn easily or have greater natural protection due to a more darkly pigmented skin. That said, UV exposure can elevate skin cancer risk even if you are more likely to tan than burn.
Moles that change in size, shape or color may increase your odds of melanoma. It is important to get atypical moles checked out by a doctor, especially if you have a family history of skin cancer.
How can you best protect yourself from skin cancer?
We can all benefit from an updated skin health protocol as summer approaches, both to reduce cancer risk and prevent early wrinkles, as over-exposure to the sun is the main cause of premature aging in skin. Fortunately, with simple but consistent efforts, you can nurture a radiant appearance and healthy, disease-free free skin. For example:
1. Sunscreen is a must.
Apply sunscreen daily, rain or shine. A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Consider these helpful sunscreen FAQs.
2. Take care when you’re outdoors.
Practice sun-safe habits, such as avoiding unprotected exposure during peak sun hours, seeking shade when possible, and wearing sun-protective clothing, hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses. This applies to kids too!
3. Choose natural skincare products.
Seek out natural/organic products that are free of unhealthy chemical additives, which are readily absorbed through our skin, in forms that are easy for you and your family, such as this quick-drying SPF 50 clear spray, which as a bonus is also waterproof, a must for active people.
4. Guide the guys in your life.
Men would be well advised to incorporate daily sunscreen into their morning routines, such as this soothing, post-shave SPF 30 faceguard. Apply to the back of the neck and ears too, especially for golf and other activities that keep chaps out in the sun for hours.
5. Don’t forget your lips.
To protect sun-exposed lips, consider this 3-pack of natural, emollient, SPF 30 lip balm that you can share with family members.
6. Use makeup with added sun protection benefits.
Women who appreciate the “less is more” concept can roll several products into one with this sheer, tinted moisturizer with SPF 30. Multi-purpose items save you money too!
7. Remember sun care when you’re on the go.
How about a fun SPF 35 sunscreen stick kids can keep in their backpacks for easy application? This safe, soothing, green-tea enriched, SPF 45 faceguard is a splendid overall basic for all medicine cabinets, as well as beach/travel bags.
Ideally these reminders and tips will keep you freshly inspired to care properly for the lovely skin that you are in. Happy (safe) trails!
1 American Academy of Dermatology. Indoor tanning fact sheet.