Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays appears to be the most important environmental factor involved in the development of skin cancer, including melanoma. It is also the one factor that is most easily controlled. When used consistently, sun-protective practices can prevent skin cancer. UV rays from artificial sources of light, such as tanning beds and sunlamps, are as dangerous if not more so, as those from the sun and should also be avoided. There is no “safe” tan. Although both tanning and burning can increase a person’s risk for skin cancer, most Americans do not consistently protect themselves from UV rays.
Melanoma is an extremely preventable cancer when taking the following precautions:
- Protect your skin.
- Avoid sunburns.
- Limit sun exposure, especially between the hours of 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest
- Wear protective clothing – such as long sleeves and hats – when exposed to sunlight
- Use at least a SPF 30 sunscreen – applying 30 minutes before going out and 1-2 hours thereafter.
- Look for a sunscreen that protects against both types of ultraviolet radiation in the sun’s rays-UVA and UVB.
- Use a higher SPF when you are at higher elevations.
- Avoid sunbathing and tanning salons. Studies suggest that your risk of melanoma increases by 75% if you start using artificial tanning before you are 30 years old.
- Examine your skin regularly, and have your doctor check your skin during all other health exams, or at least once a year or visit one of Melanoma Know More’s free monthly skin cancer screening clinics.
- Use sunscreen as a part of your daily moisturizing ritual.
- Set a good example for your children by protecting your skin from too much sun.