May 28 is “Don’t Fry Day”
Summer weather brings many people outdoors to bask in the sun’s warmth, but the American Cancer Society warns that spending time in the sun without the right protection exposes the skin to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The Friday before Memorial Day is Don’t Fry Day, and the American Cancer Society is collaborating with the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to promote skin cancer awareness all summer long.
Most of the more than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the U.S. are considered to be sun-related. Melanoma, the most serious type of sun-related skin cancer, will account for about 68,720 cases in 2009 and about 8,650 of the 11,590 deaths due to skin cancer each year.
The good news is that the public can take steps to protect themselves while exercising and enjoying the outdoors by remembering the following tips:
§ Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
§ Look for shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest. Practice the shadow rule and teach it to children. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
§ Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you cannot see through when held up to a light.
§ Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen (about a palm full) and reapply after swimming, toweling dry, or perspiring. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
§ Slap on a hat: Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, shading your face, ears, and neck. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
§ Wrap on sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with 99% to 100% UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
§ Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds.
§ Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous because they can damage your skin
If you’re wearing a bathing suit, more of your skin becomes exposed to UV radiation, the invisible six percent of the sun’s light that can be damaging to skin cells. Sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher becomes your skin’s best defense. Sunscreen now comes in more varieties than ever, and several factors should be considered to select a product that will give you the best protection: If you are wearing insect repellent or make-up, sunscreen should be applied before those products.
- The combined ingredients should block both UVA and UVB: the two most damaging forms of UV radiation. Scientists have long known UVB is the principle cause of sunburn and cancer, and more recently it has been shown UVA can compound the damage to cells caused by UVB and give skin a wrinkled, leathery appearance.
- The SPF, or skin protection factor, lets you gauge how long the lotion can protect your skin from UVB rays only, because a standardized measurement system for UVA radiation hasn’t been applied yet. A SPF of 15 blocks out about 93 percent of UVB, while a SPF of 30 blocks out approximately 97 percent.
Visible symptoms of skin cancer don’t show up for many years because sun damage remains in the deep layers of the skin. It’s cumulative and can eventually cause cancer. It’s crucial to use sunscreen every time you go out in the sun, and not just in the summer months. Experts recommend year-round use of sunscreen. More UV radiation than ever now hits the earth, and prolonged or intense sun exposure can have serious consequences.
A world with less cancer is a world with more birthdays. The key to celebrating more birthdays is to stay well. For more information on how to stay well and prevent skin cancer, call the American Cancer Society’s 24-hour cancer information line at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org/sunsafety.