Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

It's that time of year... the sun is shining and everyone heads outdoors for fresh air, family fun, and some sun. It also means it's time to stock up on the sunscreen and sun smarts. Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer?

When I moved to Western New York almost five years ago (having been born and raised in Southern California) I was somewhat surprised to notice how tanning - either at a salon or out in the sun - seemed much more prevalent than in my hometown of San Diego. I'm not saying I've never laid out in the sun but it seems the awareness (perhaps even fear) of skin cancer must be much more prevalent in sunny San Diego.

Please, please... use your sunscreen (and don't forget to re-apply), spend time in the shade, and be sun smart. Check your sun safety IQ by clicking here.

Some quick facts from the American Cancer Society:

  • Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. This type of cancer can almost completely be avoided if people would protect their skin and follow simple guidelines when they are outside.

  • There are more than 1 million skin cancers diagnosed each year in the United States. That’s more than cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries and pancreas combined. And the number of skin cancers has been on the rise for the past few decades.

  • The vast majority of skin cancers are due to unprotected ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. Most of this radiation comes from sunlight, but some may come from artificial sources, such as tanning booths. The amount of UV exposure depends on the strength of the light, the length of exposure and whether the skin is protected.
Reduce your risk of skin cancer:
  • Limit direct sun exposure mid-day (between 10am and 2pm have long been said to be the strongest rays - this has now been extended to 4pm)

  • Cover Up

  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher

  • Wear a hat

  • Wear UV blocking sunglasses

  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps
Read more about each of these tips here. Visit the Sun Safety page for even more information and tips.