Are you SunSmart? One in every five Americans develops skin cancer by the age of 70. Each year more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all cancer diagnosis combined. It’s the most common cancer in the United States. If you weren’t surprised before, take a look at these skin cancer statistics from the American Academy of Dermatologists.
But what does skin cancer have to do with the sun?
The sun’s ultraviolet rays damage the elastin fibers in the skin and the skin undergoes photodamage, losing its ability to stretch. The UVA portion of ultraviolet radiation can penetrate the skin’s deeper layers, genetically modifying cells, causing them to divide uncontrollably leading to cancer. Two of the most common cancers resulting from UVA are basal cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. And discard the myth that only light-skinned people are affected by it. About 52% of late diagnoses melanomas are found in Hispanic people.
Most cancers start from simple moles, freckles, and bumps that most of us would consider harmless.
Can you prevent this? Of course.
- While you may not be able to undo the damage that is already caused by the sun, you can take steps to prevent cancer from developing by staying out of the sun. Avoid direct sun exposure especially during peak hours when the ultraviolet radiation is the harshest between 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, use an umbrella and wear clothes that protect your skin from the sun.
- Select contact lenses and makeup that offers Ultraviolet protection.
- Choose sunscreens that are broad spectrum and protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. It is recommended by dermatologists that you use a sunscreen that has over SPF 30 where SPF is the sun protection factor. They filter almost 93% of ultraviolet radiation. Apply your sunscreen every 2 hours for it to work, especially during summer and if outdoors.
- Don’t believe in the ‘water resistant’ hype. There’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. All sunscreens are affected by sweat and come off just as easily.
- Avoid tanning beds. They are no different from the sun as they allow your skin to get exposed to ultraviolet radiation. It has been proven that people who’ve used a tanning bed before the age of 35 are at 75% more risk to develop melanoma. In fact, it meets the criteria in a similar manner as smoking does for lung cancer.
- While you’re slathering on the sunscreen be careful about your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency commonly results from staying out of the sun. As sunlight converts a prohormone in the skin, into D3 the active component of Vitamin D it is important for your skin metabolism. You can supplement Vitamin D orally and via injections to get your Vitamin D dose. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D for adults is 400 International Units (IU) for kids up to 12 months, 600 International Units for individuals from 1 to 70 years of age, and 800 IU for adults over 70 years.
- Conduct regular screening examinations of your skin and inform your doctor if you see any changes in your skin no matter how small.
- Remember the ABCDE rule for skin cancer: where A stands for asymmetry. If your skin lesion or mole is not symmetrical, where both halves don’t match then further checkup is warranted. B is for borders. Lesions with irregular borders need to be studied further. C is for colors. If the skin lesion doesn’t have the same uniform color throughout, it must be investigated further. D is the diameter. If your mole or lesion is more than 6mm in diameter then see your doctor. E is for evolution. If your mole changes in any way, become itchy, crusts over, get elevated or bumpy, you might want to meet with your doctor.
This acronym is just to help you screen for skin cancer. But for the most part, you’re supposed to protect yourself from the sun. Most of our sun exposure takes place before we’re 21 years of age, and skin cancer is insidious taking place beneath the surface of the skin without any revelation.
So teach and practice skin protection to young children. And practice them yourself.
Skin cancer is preventable, and protection is the first step towards this. If you have additional problems like rosacea you can visit Facingacne.comto find out solutions.
Are you SunSmart? Save your skin and become sun smart!
Are you SunSmart?