Written by E. McDonald, UF student
Next to regular self-examinations, preventing sunburns is a critical way to avoid skin cancer. Sunburns are actually similar to cigarettes in that even having a single one increases your likelihood of developing skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone should wear about two tablespoons of sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher every day. When spending more time outside, bump up your SPF to 30 or higher. If you wear makeup daily, you can find advice on adding sunscreen to your routine here.
These precautions aren’t limited to the sunny weather, though. Snow reflects nearly all of the sun’s UV rays, and clouds only block out about 20 percent of them. Sunscreen is helpful even when indoors because UVA rays travel through glass. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that about half of American skin cancer patients are affected on the left side of their bodies because of sun exposure from driving. When sitting in front of a window most of the day or driving during a long trip, sunscreen is a must; however, remember that sunscreen is only one type of protection, and you’re better off coupling it with the right clothing, a hat, and sunglasses.
Another huge way to keep your skin safe is to avoid getting a tan. “Healthy” tans just don’t exist. Tans, like sunburns, indicate damaged skin whether they come from the sun or a tanning bed. Statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation show that using a tanning bed just once prior to age 35 balloons your chances of developing melanoma by a whopping 75 percent. If increased chances of getting skin cancer weren’t bad enough, the vast majority of skin aging is caused by ultraviolent radiation. For the sake of both your health and your looks, don’t tan.
As with any other condition, there’s no surefire way to remove all risk of skin cancer. But by paying close attention to your skin and providing it with adequate protection year-round, you can decrease your chances of developing skin cancer and stave off wrinkles to boot.