It’s Not Just the Summer Sun

Published January 1, 2004

Exposure to the sun during any season may result in skin cancer. Follow these safety tips:

1. Always wear protective dark, tightly woven clothing when outside.

2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

3. Remember, the sun is strongest between 10 am and 2 pm.

4. Keep children under 6 months old out of the sun.

5. Apply a sunscreen rated 15 or higher whenever you’re outdoors. For children, seek a 30 rating or higher.

6. Re-apply sunscreen after swimming, vigorous activity, perspiring, and toweling off.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1 million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. It is the most preventable form of cancer.

To spot skin cancer early, check your skin once a month, so you can spot anything out of the ordinary. Write a description of moles or blemishes and track any changes.

The most common skin cancers–basal and squamous cell–form a pale, wax-like nodule; a red, scaly, sharply outlined patch; or a sore that won’t heal. The most dangerous form of skin cancer–melanoma–starts as a small, mole-like growth.

If someone in your family has had melanoma, or you’re at a high risk because you spend a lot of time in the sun, you’ve had many types of sunburn, you have fair skin, or you have many moles, get examined twice a year.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.