Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer
Sunny days tend to be the perfect times to relax outside or get some yard work done. Although the sun is the life force behind the food we eat and even our physical existence, as much as we need it, too much of it can be detrimental. Especially during outdoor activities or while working in the yard, it’s easy to lose track of how much time has elapsed and how much sun exposure we’ve gotten. Does this mean that working outside on cloudy days or during winter is safer? Not necessarily. There is a common misconception that just because the sun is not completely visible that our skin is safe from the sun’s rays, when it’s actually quite the opposite. 80% of the sun’s rays can come through spaces in-between sparse or less dense clouds. It is not just the sun’s light that affects our skin but the actual rays. This applies to winter climates as well or out on the waters. The sun’s damaging rays can reflect off of snow, water and sand, giving you an all around dosage of exposure.
You can take measures to reduce risks of skin cancer by:
The sun’s rays are strongest during the hours of 11am-4pm, so if you have yard work to do, or like to take long walks, plan these activities for early morning or in the evening after dinner.
Shade and Coverage
Covering your skin, and having the most shade is your first line of defense. Hats, sunglasses, clothing (with a tight knit) are all ways to limit the sun’s penetration to your skin.
With an abundance of sun protective products on the market you want to make sure the sun protection your purchase has an SPF of 15 or more, which needs to be reapplied every 2 hours. Read the bottle to make sure that the Sunblock has both UVA and UVB protection. Remember Sunscreen/Sunblock is not just an outer shell that can be applied then exposed to sun immediately, you need to apply and let the lotion settle for at least 15-30 minutes before going out in the sun.
Use Self Tanners and Avoid Tanning Salons
Tanning beds emit pre-dominantly UVA radiation which can be 2-5x the concentration of natural sunlight. The effects of UVA rays include, sunburn, skin aging and skin cancer. UVB radiation also contributes to these factors. Many stores now carry self tanners that are safe, long lasting and don’t leave you orange.
Check Your Skin
The saying is the best protection is prevention. Check your skin frequently for new skin growths, moles, and changing skin patterns. The first symptoms of developing skin problems include changing colors, non-healing sores and new skin growths.
In addition to skin protection and limiting exposure, there have been studies that certain fruits and vegetables that also aid in preventing skin cancer. These include:
- Broccoli, Celery, Onions, Tomatoes, Apples, Cherries and Grapes.
- The antioxidants in wine, tea and turmeric also provide many benefits to the body and in the prevention of skin cancer.
The key factor is consistency and being aware of our actions and what we are exposed to. The next time you’re working in the yard or enjoying a day out, plan the best ways so that you and your loved ones can enjoy the outside while still protected and safe.