As spring nears its end and summer prepares to commence, visions of longer days and the sun’s inviting warmth call to us. We long for the hours of extra sunshine and for some, there is also a yearning for a change in their complexion. A desire for a decent tan pushes many to throw caution to the wind and forgo reapplying sunscreen or to forget the sunscreen altogether.
Perhaps this is why May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
Skin Cancer Takes a Toll
It’s gut-wrenching that the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide is one of the most preventable: Skin Cancer.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk of melanoma
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent
It’s Not Just Multiple Burns & Unwatched Moles Marking Victims
Although many know to keep their sun-worshipping to a minimum and their mole-watching to a maximum, Prevention mentions several other risk factors that aren’t as well-known:
- Getting even one bad sunburn
- Having fair skin
- Being a ginger (i.e. red-head)
- Living in the mountains
- “Not only does the amount of UV radiation increase, but the thinner air up there doesn’t absorb UV waves very effectively– which means it’s more damaging to your skin cells. Still skeptical? The annual rate of new melanoma diagnoses in Colorado is 15% higher than the national average, according to the EPA.”
- Having a family history of skin cancer
- Flying frequently
- There is an approximate 15% increase in UV radiation intensity for every 3,000 feet you climb. “That means that at 30,000 feet– where most commercial aircraft fly– the UV level is about twice that of ground level. And while the plane’s structure affords some protection, UVA rays (which are even more intense when flying above clouds or snowy mountains) go right through the windows.”
- Driving a lot
- “About three-quarters of melanomas in situ (early-stage melanoma that hasn’t yet spread) are on the left side of the body, according to a 2010 St. Louis University School of Medicine study. Researchers suspect it’s from UV exposure while driving; while glass effectively blocks UVB, cars’ side windows allow 63% of UVA to get through.”
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Specifically arsenic exposure
You Wear It Every Day
Ironically, a massive amount of money is often spent on maintaining hair, makeup products, manicures, pedicures, and one’s wardrobe but something you wear every day of your life, your skin, isn’t typically thought of and taken care of on a daily basis. From wearing sunscreen to sporting sun protection forms of clothing to knowing and checking your moles, you have the power to massively lower your risks of developing skin cancer.
Take the time to protect your skin. Teach the importance of this to your children. Honor Skin Cancer Awareness Month by committing to loving the skin you’re in and not risking skin cancer for a tan that will soon fade. Remember, self-tanning is only a store or spa away!
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach