Today is the fourth-annual Don't Fry Day, a day of awareness started by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. The Friday before Memorial Day was chosen because Memorial Day Weekend is viewed by many as the unofficial start to summer, and millions of Americans will be participating in events outside. The goal is to raise sun safety awareness so people take the necessary precautions to reduce their risks of skin cancer.
There are four things that the council recommends for safety from sun exposure, "Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!" That is, slip on a shirt, slop on some SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, slap on a wide-brimmed hat and wrap on UV-blocking sunglasses. The best way to prevent the most common cancer in the United States is to keep harmful UV rays away from your skin. Covering yourself with light clothing and sunscreen, as well as shading your face and eyes with hats and sunglasses, can help reduce your risk of exposure.
A sun hat and sunglasses can help prevent your risk of skin cancer. Photo courtesy of Oatsandsugar
Especially as a heat wave is set to affect large parts of the country this weekend, it will be very important for those who plan to be outside to be cautious. Not only are sunburns painful, severe burns can cause a significant amount of damage to the structure of your skin cells. Avoiding overexposure is the number one way to reduce your risks of skin cancer.
While a tan may not feel as uncomfortable as a burn does, tanning is still the result of skin damage that can lead to cancer or cause early skin aging through wrinkles and dark spots. Rather than spend the long weekend sunbathing, stay in the shade and try safer alternatives, such as spray tans, self tanners, tinted moisturizers and bronzers. Especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UVB rays are at their strongest, it is important to avoid too much exposure to direct sunlight. Also beware of reflective surfaces, like water, sand and glass, which can send rays in your direction even when you think you're shaded.
When applied properly, self tanners are a great healthy alternatives to tanning beds. Photo courtesy of Dr Stephen Dann
It's not just this weekend. The council wants to educate people to take care of their skin today and everyday. It's also part of the counsel's plan to bring these lessons into schools to get kids to start taking care of their skin (and their health) at an early age. They offer these suggestions to educators to help bring sun safety awareness to the classroom.
There are more cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. And yet, it's one of the most preventable. One in five children will grow up to have skin cancer, with melanoma being the second and first most common cancer in young adults ages 15-29 and 25-29, respectively. The is due to children spending more time in the sun than adults (50-80 percent of a person's lifetime exposure to sun occurs before the age of 18) and the popularity of indoor and outdoor tanning for young adults. Taking the right steps to prevent skin cancer now will have significant benefits for your future.
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