Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer accounting for almost half of all the cancers in the United States. More than 2 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in US. Melanoma the most fatal type of skin cancer has increased eightfold among young women between 1970 and 2009. Unfortunately, every year more than 12,000 deaths are caused due to skin cancer.
Ironically, skin cancer is also the most easily preventable type of cancer. Here are seven ways you can protect your skin and save your life from cancer.
It sounds fairly simple – Wear your sunscreen everyday! Still the fact is that two thirds of the population fails to incorporate sunscreen into their daily routine. Many times people feel that the danger is higher for kids so they slather the sunscreen onto their children and forget about themselves. Another myth is that if it is a cloudy day one doesn’t need a sunscreen. In reality you need to slather sunscreen all 365 days through the year. UV rays don’t skip a day and neither should you.
Know your sunscreen
If you count SPF foundation as sunscreen, beware, you could unwittingly be exposing yourself to the cancer threat. You can’t use enough of the foundation to protect yourself from the harmful rays of sun. Layer sunscreen underneath before any makeup and reapply frequently.
Read the new sunscreen guidelines for choosing a sunscreen thoroughly which outlines that a good sunscreen must have good, stable sun protection, no ingredients with toxicity concerns, no SPF values above 50+ and don’t use sprays and powders. Terms like “waterproof”, “sunblock” and “all day protection” on sunscreens are unsubstantiated and products labelled such should be avoided.
Protect the special spots
Although you must apply sunscreen from head to toe there are certain areas which are at higher risk like face, neck, eyes, ears, legs, lips and feet. Try to avoid sun between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Use wide-brimmed hats to protect your face & scalp, sunscreen sticks for areas like ears and SPF-rich lip balm for lips. Sunglasses with 99%-100% UV absorption are a must to protect eyes. According to the latest studies, children also need to protect their eyes using UV absorption sunglasses.
Avoid Tanning beds
World Health Organization has long issued a warning against use of tanning beds. Health authorities have also made it imperative for tanning salons to post warning signs about risks of skin cancer. But sadly many women, especially teenagers still put themselves at risk for a tanned look. High pressure bulbs in the tanning bed emit almost 10 times more UV rays than sun does and increases your risk for melanoma. Ask yourself why you must get tanned? Is it to look slimmer, prettier, feel good factor etc? Then look for safe alternatives for these needs. If you must look bronzed, self-tanners are your best bet.
Eating certain foods may help protect against skin cancer. Keeping yourself hydrated is very important to prevent skin cancer and foods that keep your skin hydrated are a must, especially in summers.
Minerals like zinc and copper are important for collagen formation which keeps the skin naturally wrinkle free. Also eat foods rich in Vitamin C like citrus fruits, kiwi, green vegetables etc. Hot peppers, nuts, watermelon, fish and dark chocolate are also said to reduce the risk of sunburns and skin cancer.
Learn your cancer alphabets
The simple ABCDE of Cancer will help you determine if the spots you see are suspicious or not.
B- border, jagged or blurry edges
C- Colored shades in the same mole or spot
D- Diameter, moles greater than 6 mm in diameter are trouble
E- Evolving i.e. changing shapes, colors or size
If you have a large number of moles on your body then you must keep checking whether any new ones are coming or if the existing ones are changing in any way. Do this check at least once a month.
Visit a dermatologist
If you find anything which is even slightly suspicious, a visit to the dermatologist to check it out is definitely a good idea. It is highly recommended that adults visit the dermatologist at least once a year for a full body examination. However, if you have a family history of cancer then this should surely be more than once a year. Consistent self examination followed by visit to the dermatologist clinic for test of any suspect spots or lesions will go a long way in helping you prevent skin cancer.
As much we love it and need it, Sun is not your skin’s best friend. But these simple doable tips will help you keep your skin younger, fresher and most importantly cancer free. May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so do your bit towards that by increasing awareness and helping the Skin cancer foundation. Stay safe this summer and as always share your thoughts through comments below!This post has been written by our staff writer Swapna. images- weheartit.com