Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. In fact, there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined each year. And, 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
One simple daily precaution can significantly lower our risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer — the most common type of skin cancer: Apply sunscreen every time we go outside.
Who is at risk of developing skin cancer?
Each and every one of us is at risk of developing skin cancer caused by the sun! However, extra precaution should be taken if you …
- Have natural blonde or red hair
- Have freckles
- Have fair skin
- Spend a lot of time outside
- Have a family history of skin cancer, or have had skin cancer before
- Take medicines that make you sensitive to light
- Have been sunburned before
- Have large moles
What type of sunscreen should we use?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that we all use sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum protection, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher
- Water resistance
What exactly is a Sun Protection Factor (SPF)?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to the theoretical amount of time each of us can be exposed to the sun without getting sunburned. For example, if we use a sunscreen with SPF 30, theoretically we could stay in the sun without getting burned for approximately 30 minutes longer than had we not applied sunscreen.
Simply put, the SPF number relates to how long our protected skin can be exposed to the sun before it burns. This is why it’s so important that we all reapply sunscreen often, especially if we are in and out of the water or sweat.
Where should we apply sunscreen?
Sunscreen should be applied on all skin that is exposed to the sun. It’s also important to apply sunscreen approximately 15 minutes before going outdoors to allow skin time to absorb it. And don’t forget these 5 most commonly missed areas!
- Feet — top and bottom, don’t forget your toes
- Behind the knees
- Scalp — even if you have a full head of hair
- Eyelids — don’t get sunscreen in your eyes
- Ears — front and back
Considering indoor tanning? Don’t.
If you think indoor tanning is a safer solution, think again. More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning. Plus, individuals who have used tanning beds 10 or more times in their lives have a 34% increased risk of developing skin cancer compared to those who have never used tanning beds. And, individuals who use indoor tanning before the age of 35 increase their risk of skin cancer by 75%!
Let’s all pledge to protect ourselves!
As Arizonans, we experience more than 300 sunny days each year — meaning we have a higher chance of developing skin cancer in the course of a lifetime than most Americans. If we all make applying sunscreen part of our daily routine, we can significantly lower our risk of developing skin cancer … Which means more time to enjoy that Arizona sun!
This blog is brought to you by IASIS Healthcare Arizona, an innovative network of four hospitals, including Mountain Vista Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital, and St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center; an integrated network of physician practices; and a health insurance organization with many plan options and services, all synced and working together toward one goal — your good health.