It’s a little-known fact that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. In fact, there are over 5 million new cases of skin cancer each year—more than the combined incidences of prostate, colon, lung and breast cancers. Here are 11 things you need to know about skin cancer prevention, and how to keep yourself safe in the sun.
Don’t Be Afraid
Sun gives us life, its warmth feels good on our skin, and without it there would be no beauty on this planet. So, don’t be afraid of it; but change your habits so that you can enjoy it without putting yourself in danger. Cover up: wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and loose, long-sleeved clothes.
More than Skin Deep
It’s easy to dismiss basal cell carcinoma, because it is almost always easily curable with a simple procedure or a topical cream. However, those who get this type of superficial cancer have a 50% higher risk of contracting an internal cancer compared to someone who’s never had skin cancer. Take it seriously.
Don’t Save Sunscreen for the Beach
You might not go to the beach every day, but in fact we often underestimate the amount of UV radiation we are exposed to in our normal day to day. Research indicates there’s a preventative benefit to applying sunscreen every day, rain or shine, to every part that is exposed: face, neck, arms, hands…
Slap it On
How much sunscreen do you usually apply? Research shows most of us try to get away with using less. But the less we use, the less protection we receive. You need a one-ounce shot glass to cover an average adult body if you’re going to the beach. Remember to reapply it every two hours or after you’ve gone swimming. Make sure you use a minimum of SPF 25.
You can boost the protection of your sunscreen and make sure every part of your body is covered, you can layer products. For example, using an antioxidant serum with added vitamins E and C under your sunscreen will neutralize the free radicals from daily pollution that sunscreens don’t usually affect.
No matter how strong your sunscreen or how much you apply, it’s impossible to protect your skin 100%. Make sure you’re never stranded somewhere without an exit-the-sun strategy. You’ll want to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm, when rays are most intense.
See It, Say It
If you notice a mole is changing in any way, talk to your doctor. Whether it’s getting bigger, changing shape or color, or becoming itchy or sore, it’s a good idea to have it checked out. If it turns out to be skin cancer, the sooner you catch it, the better your chances of recovery. Read more about early signs of skin cancer.
Don’t Underestimate It
Some people think skin cancer isn’t that bad because it isn’t life-threatening, but this is incorrect. When it comes to cancer deaths in young people, melanoma is the leading cause. If you catch it early, it can easily be dealt with, but if it has a chance to spread it can have serious consequences.
Don’t Forget Your Lips
The skin on your lips is particularly prone to sunburn and skin cancer because it lacks melanin, your body’s natural sunscreen. The lower lip has a higher chance of being affected because it gets more sun exposure. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your lips to keep them protected.
Protect Your Skin from the Inside Out
Some antioxidants can help protect your skin from the inside out. One of these is a fern leaf extract called polypodium leucotomos, which can help decrease skin damage. Making sure your diet is high in healthy antioxidants, in the form of plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, can also help with skin cancer prevention.
Vitamin D for Skin Cancer
Some people don’t use sunscreen because they are worried they might become deficient in Vitamin D, which the body creates when it is exposed to sunlight. This is a valid concern, however it is easily remedied by taking a daily vitamin D supplement, and adding vitamin D rich foods to your diet, like cod liver oil, oily fish, mushrooms and eggs.
It might feel like a burden to apply sunscreen or wear a hat, but being sensible when it comes to sun exposure will do wonders for your skin and help you prevent skin cancer.