The month of May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, so we want to take this opportunity to warn you about the consequences of skin cancer.  If you work outdoors, there are steps you can take to protect your skin.  If you are deliberately working on a tan, please consider that this can be risky.

Too many Americans don’t protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays, according to the Center for Disease Control, even though they are aware that the burns from the sun increase their risk of skin cancer.  Many people who have been diagnosed with basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer or melanoma, have been told by their dermatologists that sunburn during their childhood is likely a major factor that may have caused their problem as adults, so it is of the utmost importance that children’s skin is protected from the sun.

The American Academy of Dermatology has established the Shadow Rule: No Shadow – SEEK SHADE.  If your shade is shorter than you are, the sun is at its highest intensity.

For those who must work or play outdoors, wear wide brim hats, hardhats w/sunshields, ultra-violet absorbing eyewear, (safety glasses), long sleeves, and use sunscreen that has a minimum of 15 SPF.  Apply sunscreen hourly.  Reflective surfaces such as water and sand can add to the burning effects of the sun.  So play it safe, stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Most Americans believe they can start their summer tan a little faster by going to tanning beds, however, they don’t realize that without proper protection, those tanning beds can cause serious burns not only to the skin, but to the eyes.  On an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons.  First exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 per cent. Research shows that UV radiation levels of a tanning bed are 100 times that of the natural sun.  The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires tanning facilities to furnish clean, UV-blocking goggles to all consumers.  Without these protective eye goggles, the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians warns that using a tanning bed without protective goggles is the “equivalent to staring at the sun.”

The number of melanomas is rising faster than any of the seven most common cancers.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 68,720 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with almost 8,650 resulting in death.  We hope this helps you understand the significance of the damage UV rays cause.  We have mentioned the many ways you can protect yourself; if you suspect you may have some type of skin cancer, be sure to see your physician as soon as possible.  Do not ignore places that change color or don’t heal.  Many times treatment by a dermatologist can take care of the problem before it gets serious.

Source: Prevent Blindness America
Skin Cancer Foundation


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