According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the nation. Fortunately, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of developing it.
First and foremost, it is imperative that individuals protect themselves against ultraviolet, or UV, radiation, which is thought to play a significant role in the development of many skin cancers. Although UV rays are strongest in late spring and early summer, they are present year-round, and so should be guarded against during all months. Additionally, UV radiation can reach a person’s skin on cloudy days, as well as sunny days. Between the hours of ten and four (daylight savings time), ultraviolet radiation is at its strongest, and can also be more damaging around water, sand, snow, and cement, due to the fact that UV rays are able to bounce off of these surfaces and hit the skin more than once. To protect skin from ultraviolet radiation, apply sunscreen whenever you anticipate being outside for a period of time. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and double check to make sure that the sunscreen is broad spectrum, meaning that it protects against both forms of harmful UV rays (UVA and UVB). Apply the sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply the sunscreen every two hours, or every hour if swimming or sweating, making sure that easy to miss areas, such as the lips, ears, throat, and back of the hands are covered. In addition to using sunscreen regularly, UV radiation can be guarded against by wearing tightly woven, dark or brightly colored clothing that is long-sleeved and covers as much of the skin as possible. Additionally, large hats that shade the back of the neck and the face, and sunglasses can be indispensible in the fight against skin cancer. It is also important not to seek out UV rays by tanning indoors or outdoors, and care should be taken to stay in the shade whenever it is available.
In addition to protecting skin from UV rays, skin cancer prevention also encompasses staying up to date on skin examinations, meaning performing a self-exam once every month and scheduling a professional examination once every year (or more frequently if recommended by a doctor). According to the National Cancer Institute, there is not sufficient evidence to support the claim that beta carotene or selenium supplements offer significant benefits in terms of preventing skin cancer, although maintaining a healthy amount of vitamin d in one’s diet is thought to reduce a person’s chance of getting skin cancer. Additionally, being aware of whether members of one’s family have battled skin cancer can also be helpful.
Some forms of the disease can be deadly, so it is important to stay informed on how to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.