Skin Cancer Prevention Tips This Summer

View from top of girl in bikini wearing white hat

With summer in full swing, you’re more than likely going to be outside soaking up some sun and fun. While this outdoor lifestyle is a staple of the season, there are real dangers to being exposed to summer sun without the protection of sunscreen.

We’ve known for decades about the destructive powers of UV rays – it’s the leading cause of melanoma, the potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

According to the Mayo Clinic, melanoma rates are up in most demographics. Women under 40 are especially at risk, being eight times more likely to get skin cancer now than they were in 1970.

Skin cancer affects 1 in 5 Americans – an incredible number, considering many think it’s only a problem for those who spend countless hours on the beach.

Although melanoma in particular is not the most common type of skin cancer, it is certainly the deadliest.

But none of this needs to be a downer; it doesn’t even need to be a problem, if a new set of summertime habits are encouraged.

Here are a just a few ways to reduce UV exposure and be mindful of melanoma, while still enjoying all the activities of the sunshine season.

  • Above all, avoid sunburns. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but a combination of broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeve moisture-wicking shirts or pants will prevent unnecessary exposure during longer periods spent outside.
  • Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen. About 2 tablespoons every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Seek the shade where possible. Bring an umbrella to the beach; eat lunch under a tree or canopy rather than in direct noon sunlight.
  • Tan smart. There are ways to tan that negate as much skin cancer risk as possible. Wearing tanning oil or a little sunscreen helps. Remember, lots of exposure in small doses is better than a long session that leaves your skin burned. Definitely avoid tanning beds of any kind.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun.
  • Proactively make checks. Is that mole benign or malignant? Remember the ABCDE’s of skin cancer: Asymmetry, Border (cancerous marks will have uneven, blotchy borders), Color (benign tend to be one solid color, while malignant can have some different shades), Diameter (malignants are usually larger than a pencil’s eraser), and Evolving (moles that change in shape, size, color or in any other way should trigger a visit to the doctor).
  • Remember that the earlier you find cancer, the easier it can be cured.
  • There’s no such thing as a “base tan.” The myth that an initial tan can prevent sunburns needs to be debunked for good.


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