Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, but new data from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) shows that many Americans aren’t taking the necessary steps to protect themselves. Seventy-six percent of Americans agree that sun protection is an important healthy habit, yet only 41 percent report regularly protecting themselves outdoors increasing their risk for skin cancer.
While exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, 28 percent of Americans admit they rarely or never use sun protection, and 65 percent don’t know that shade protects them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. “It is estimated that more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and nearly 20 Americans die every day from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” says board-certified dermatologist Bruce H. Thiers, MD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “Skin cancer affects more Americans than any other cancer, yet most cases are preventable by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing and applying sunscreen on all skin not covered by clothing.”
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing; reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating; seeking shade when appropriate and remembering that the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; and wearing sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
Skin Cancer ABCs
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early and everyone should perform regular skin self-exams and look out for the ABCDE warning signs of melanoma. A is for asymmetry - one half of the spot is unlike the other half. B is for border - the spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border. C is for color - the spot has varying colors from one area to the next such as shades of tan, brown or black, or areas of white, red or blue. D is for diameter - while melanomas are usually greater than six millimeters they can be smaller. E is for evolving - the spot looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
When checking your skin, ask a partner to help examine hard-to-see areas, like the back. If you notice new or suspicious spots on your skin or any spots that are changing, itching or bleeding, tell a board-certified dermatologist. When detected early, skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable, making it imperative to check your skin regularly. To reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, practice safe sun. It only takes a few simple steps to protect your skin from UV, and it could save your life.
A Closer Look At Sunscreen Chemicals
An article published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reviewed the available research into chemical ultraviolet filters found in U.S. sunscreens. The paper came in the wake of Hawaiian legislation banning the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate, citing research that suggests they may contribute to coral bleaching. The authors maintain that more research is necessary and emphasize the importance of protection from UV exposure. “While there is emerging evidence that chemical sunscreen ingredients could enter the water supply and affect marine life, including fish and coral reefs, more research will be necessary to draw any firm conclusions, and there have been no demonstrable harmful effects in humans,” says author Henry W. Lim, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and chair emeritus of the dermatology department at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “What we do know is that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and UV exposure is a major skin cancer risk factor. As such, everyone should still take steps to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays.”
“All of the active ingredients in U.S. sunscreens have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for human use,” added board-certified dermatologist Suzanne M. Olbricht, MD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “Claims that any of these ingredients are toxic or a hazard to human health have not been proven. In fact, scientific evidence supports the benefits of applying sunscreen to minimize short and long-term damage to the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.”
For more information, visit aad.org/sunprotection. To learn more about skin cancer prevention and detection, visit SpotSkinCancer.org. To find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org/findaderm.
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With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletters.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.