Sun Safety Tips

NEWARK—Anyone who spends time in the sun, from golfers to beachgoers, should be proactive about protection from the sun’s harmful rays. This year over one million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). That number is more than prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries, and pancreas cancer combined.

“The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise significantly, at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers,” says Alice J. Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.P., Director the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “The best way to lower the risk of skin cancer is to avoid intense sunlight for long periods of time and to practice sun safety.”

If caught early, 95 percent of skin cancer cases can be cured. There are some simple steps people can take to protect themselves from getting the disease. The Frederick B. Cohen, MD, Comprehensive Cancer and Blood Disorder Center and the ACS offer some suggestions to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun:

  • There is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan is skin damage.
  • Always apply at least a 15 SPF sunscreen on sun-exposed skin 30 minutes before you go outside, even if it is for a short period of time. Reapply every two hours. Cover often-missed spots: lips, ears, around eyes, neck, scalp hands and feet.
  • Wear protective clothing, like hats, sunglasses, long sleeves and pants. Men are more likely to get melanoma on their backs and chests while women are more likely to get it on the backs of their legs.
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Never use tanning booths or beds. People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. See your physician every year for a professional skin exam. Monitor any changes in your skin, including new moles, changes in old moles and sores that aren’t healing or keep coming back.
  • Healthy habits are best learned young. Because skin damage occurs with each unprotected exposure and accumulates over the course of a lifetime, sun safety for children should be a priority.

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