As millions of Americans prepare to enjoy the great outdoors on the Fourth of July weekend, the American Cancer Society reminds everyone to practice sun-safe behaviors – and pack those wide-brimmed hats in the suitcase.
The incidence of melanoma (the most fatal of skin cancers) continues to rise significantly, at a rate faster than any of the seven most common cancers. Skin cancer is a health issue that is largely preventable.
“Many people believe skin cancer occurs after a lifetime of exposure, and yet, melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults 15-29 years of age,” says John Morgan, Dr. P.H., of the Loma Linda University Cancer Center, and a member of the Society’s Inland Empire Community Council. “In the last 30 years, the number of women under age 40 diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma has more than doubled while the squamous cell carcinoma rate has also increased significantly.”
“Any change in your skin, whether burned or slightly tanned, is a sign of UV damage,” says Morgan. “The good news is: you can protect yourself and your family members from skin cancer’s main cause: too much sun. In the same way we teach kids to wear bike helmets, we can also teach them to wear wide-brimmed hats.”
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the United States. More people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. Whether from the sun or an artificial light source, ultraviolet radiation is a carcinogen. According to a recent study, in 2006, in the 116 largest (most populous) U.S. cities, there were, on average, more tanning salons than there were Starbucks® coffee shops.4
Here are some simple ways to be safe in the sun. Remember, Slip, Slop, Slap…and Wrap5 and plan activities away from the midday sun:
- Slip on a shirt;
- Slop on sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher);
- Slap on a hat; and
- Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them from ultraviolet light.
For more information, including additional statistics and other resources, visit the American Cancer Society at cancer.org; or the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention’s site: http://www.skincancerprevention.org/.
*Contributed by American Cancer Society