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How to Protect Yourself From the Dangers of Skin Cancer

Published on October 22, 2014

Protecting yourself from skin cancer is fairly straightforward compared to other cancers, despite the fact that skin cancer is still one of the most common cancers. The reason for this, however, is due to the amount of time people unwittingly spend in the sun without protection. Thus, the first step to protecting yourself from skin cancer is protecting yourself from the sun, even in the winter.

Even regular sun exposure can cause skin cancer …

Most people know that sunburns and even suntans are bad for the skin, but not everyone knows that simply exposing yourself to the sun on a regular basis could be causing damage. The myth that sun exposure is necessary for proper levels of Vitamin D may be to blame. It is much safer and easier to obtain Vitamin D through a variety of foods than to expose yourself regularly to the sun. If you must go out in the sun, try to avoid the hours between 10AM and 4PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Wear sunscreen and cover up as much as possible. Facial sunscreens should also be used when exposed to strong sun.

Remember that the sun reflects off snow, sand and water, thus intensifying the effects of UV rays. It is also important to remember that up to 80 percent of UV rays penetrates through clouds, so overcast days are deceiving.

The dangers of tanning beds

Tanning beds are no safer than going out in natural sun, and in fact, they are probably much less safe. Using a tanning bed makes you two and a half times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and one and a half times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Damage is cumulative with continual UV exposure and the more you do it, the higher your risk for developing some type of skin cancer as you age.

After the age of 35 you should get regular skin cancer screenings and/or see a dermatologist anytime you spot a concerning mole or other skin spot. Anyone of any age can benefit from awareness of skin cancer, and especially if you have fair skin or have had a history of sun exposure.