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Six Reminders for Skin Cancer Awareness Month

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Ah, spring has sprung! And like every year with the melting of the snow means the shedding of those winter clothes. But before you bare it all doll, I want to give you the skinny on that skin of yours. 


Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of the body? As we recognize May as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we must understand what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in our bodies. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the United States, with over 1 million cases diagnosed each year. That’s more than cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries, and pancreas combined!  


But I’m here to shed some light on the subject: The sun is a natural source of vitamin D, but frequent overexposure to unprotected ultraviolet radiation (UV) causes most skin cancers. Sunlight is a major source of this UV radiation, but it may also come from artificial sources like tanning booths. The strength of the light and the length of the exposure determine just how much exposure to UV rays you might have had. 


So together, with prevention and early detection, we can protect ourselves from skin cancer. 


1. Be in the know
Being educated will save your life. Learn the early warning signs of skin cancer and how you can prevent it. If you see any changes in your skin, or new lumps on your skin that are red, sore or scaly, go to your doctor immediately. Early detection equals survival! 


2. Limit midday exposure
Harmful UV rays are most intense between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, you check the UV Index in the area. 


3. Protect your skin
Of course you want to show off your beautiful body when you’re outside but by covering up, you’ll be keeping your skin youthful and beautiful. Wear clothing that protects your skin and when possible, choose darker colors over light as they provide more protection. Test your clothes—a typical light T-shirt protects less than SPF 15 so if you can see through it, then it’s not going to protect your skin.


4. Use Sunscreen
Get in the habit of applying sunscreen everyday and remember UV rays travel through the clouds even on overcast days. Use a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher as this will protect you against UV rays. Remember that the SPF number is the level of protection you receive against harmful UVB rays so the higher the number, the more protection for your precious skin. Make sure you don’t miss a spot! 


5. Accessorize for protection
Who says being in style can’t also be healthy? By wearing a hat with a 2- to 3-inch brim all around, you will protect your head and neck—most commonly exposed to the sun—and look fabulous too! A baseball cap will protect your face and the top of your head but not much more. It’s important to protect your neck and ears as skin cancers commonly develop in those areas. Also, keep your eyes healthy by wearing sunglasses as they protect against the chances of developing an eye disease. Ideal sunglasses block 99–100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. Go shopping, doll … it’s for your own protection! 


6. Avoid tanning beds
Tanning bed lamps emit UVA and UVB rays which can cause serious long-term skin damage. Don’t believe for one second that tanning beds or sun lamps are a safer alternative to sunbathing because that’s certainly a myth. Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s findings on tanning booths and end the trend!


So this month and every month, get up, go out, and have some fun in the sun, but make sure you take the proper precautions and protect your skin. We want to be healthy and beautiful on the inside and out!


By Fran Drescher of CancerSchmancer

Photo courtesy of CancerSchmancer

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