The Truth about Skin Cancer
May 8, 2012 - 11:49:33 AM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - As our largest organ, our skin is highly susceptible to damage. Yet most of us don’t protect it. Only 4 in 10 Americans believe it is important to protect skin from the harmful effects of the sun, and only 15 percent wear sunscreen outdoors, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The truth is, prolonged sun exposure equals skin damage. (No attribution necessary since this is written by the expert.) . Over time, that damage accumulates and can lead to skin cancers, including melanoma. The disease, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is increasingly prevalent among young adults, particularly women.
Protecting yourself starts with education. Test your melanoma IQ with the following quiz:
True or False: Tanning beds aren’t as dangerous as the sun for tanning.
False. Tanning beds use the same UVA and UVB rays to tan your skin as the sun does. In fact, tanning beds may be more dangerous because the illusion of safety may prompt people to spend more time in tanning beds. Remember, any change in color means damage to the skin, and tanning beds are no exception.
True or False: I don’t need sunscreen if I limit my sun exposure to mornings and late afternoons.
False. People are often lulled into a false sense of security when the sun’s rays aren’t as bright. Sunscreen should be worn even on cloudy or cool days. Even if you can’t see them, the sun’s rays are still there. But early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to be outside.
True or False: Early signs of skin damage include changes to the skin and spots that itch or don’t heal.
True. Visit your doctor if you see skin changes such as moles that itch, bleed or change in size or color. Melanoma often begins in or around an existing mole. In an adult, the development of a new mole may be a sign of melanoma.
True or False: Sunscreen use should start in childhood.
True! Sunscreen use not only helps teach children good habits for a lifetime, but starts protecting tender skin early. Most skin damage occurs before age 20, so early sunscreen use and proper sun precautions are vital. Blistering sunburns in childhood are a significant risk factor for melanoma.
True or False: I need to wear sunscreen only in the summer or when I’m outdoors a lot.
False. Sunscreen should be worn every day. Office windows and commutes can build up sun exposure over time. Easy ways to incorporate sunscreen into your morning routine include using makeup/sunscreen combos, moisturizer with built-in sunscreen or spray-on sunscreens that dry quickly.
True or False: Wearing sunscreen is the most important thing I can do to protect my skin.
While this statement is true in part, there are also many other things you can and should do to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen doesn’t give you a pass to lie for hours in the sun. Tans can add years of damage and wrinkles to the skin. Wear a broad-brimmed hat, cover-ups and sunglasses at the beach. Seek shade from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their peak. And reapply sunscreen regularly, especially after swimming.
Remember, while being outdoors, especially in the summer, is a lot of fun, it can also be dangerous to your skin. Help keep your skin youthful and healthy by minimizing sun exposure, wearing sunscreen and taking the proper precautions.
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