One in six Canadians that were born in the 1990s will develop skin cancer. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and is the number one cancer killer of women between the ages of 25 to 30 years old. The risk of melanoma is 75% greater for people who use tanning beds before the age of 30.
If these statistics shock or worry you, please read on for how you can prevent this.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and it is the most preventable as well. There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. There are over 80,000 cases diagnosed each year in Canada alone. This cancer is caused when our skin is overexposed to UV radiation from the sun and artificial tanning beds.
Our skin plays a vital role in our health. It is the largest organ we have and is our protector from things such as pollution, bacterial infections, and the sun, but it can only do so much. The ultraviolet rays from the sun damage the DNA in our skin cells which can cause cancer. So how can we protect ourselves from this preventable cancer that has continued to rise?
The best way to prevent skin cancer to protect your skin. Most people love to be outdoors playing or relaxing when the sun is shining with many more that earn a living by working outdoors. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can harm you. The sun can help with things like depression, improving our appearance, and increase our levels of vitamin D but exposure to the sun must be done so safely. The following are tips for enjoying the benefits of the sun.
- Sunglasses – it is important to protect our eyes from the sun as well as our skin. There is no need to spend an absorbent amount of money on sunglasses as a cheap pair with UVB and UVA protection will do the trick.
- Sunscreen – Use a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher for extended stays outdoors. This should be applied 15 to 20 minutes before heading into the sun and should regularly be reapplied throughout the entire time you are outside. Definitely, reapply after swimming or playing sports that cause you to sweat.
- Head Cover – Put a hat or scarf on your head. This will not only protect your face and neck from overexposure to the sun, but it can also decrease your chance of heat stroke.
- Stay Away from Tanning Beds and Lamps – there have been reports for and against this practice. While Canadians use many different types of products to give them that healthy glow, there is no safe way to tan.
It is important that we pay attention to our body. We know ourselves best, and by being aware, reporting any changes in our health to a medical professional, and practicing sun safety, we can reduce our risk of skin cancer. The following are warning signs from the Government of Canada Public Health website:
Asymmetry. Do the two halves not match if you imagine drawing a line through the mole?
Borders. Are the edges uneven, scalloped or notched?
Colours. Are there many shades (brown, red, white, blue or black)?
Diameter greater than 6mm. Is the mole the size of a pencil eraser or larger?
Evolution. Has there been a change in size, shape, color, or height? Has a new symptom developed (like bleeding, itching or crusting)?
The amount of skin cancer cases has increased over the last 30 years, and although it is the most common type of cancer, it is preventable. By following the simple safety tips, you can reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.