Stay Safe in the Sun

Here’s some information on how to stay safe in the sun.

Charles Bloom/The Kansas City Star/mct

Take Steps to Protect Your Skin

By Karalee Miller, McClatchy Newspapers

Sunny days are great for kicking back, playing in the pool or hitting up the local park, but keep in mind how dangerous the sun can be. Now, we know this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, and we’re pretty positive it won’t be the last. It bears repeating, though, because the innocent-looking sun can be so harmful to your health.

Skin cancer is a big risk and its the most common of all cancers, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 10,000 deaths from skin cancer this year. So before you cannonball into the pool, here are some good-to-know facts:

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF THE SUN?
Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can lead to more than just a sunburn. (Besides, with all the peeling and pain, isn’t a sunburn alone enough reason to slather on the unscreen?) If it’s not, realize that in addition to cancer, excess UV rays can cause skin cancer, eye damage, immune-system suppression and premature aging. For children, the risk is high, as about 23 percent of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR KINDS OF SKIN CANCER?
Most skin cancers are classified as nonmelanoma, which typically occurs in cells located at he base of the outer layer of the skin. Most nonmelanoma skin cancers develop on the face, ears, lips and backs of hands. They rarely spread to other areas of the body. Most of the ore than 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer diagnosed annually in the United States are considered sun-related.

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes cells that produce the skin coloring or pigment known as melanin. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma is almost always curable when it is detected in its early stages. However, it is far more dangerous than other skin cancers, and it causes the majority of skin-cancer deaths. It will account for more than 62,000 cases of skin cancer this year.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM THE SUN?
Let’s hope you’re not too freaked out to play outdoors this summer. As long as you practice sun safety, feel free to play, swim, ride bikes, whatever you like. There are, however, several ways to be safe. Here are some tips from the American Cancer Society:

1. Try to stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During that time when the sun’s rays can be most intense play in the shade. Implement the shadow rule: If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.

2. Wear clothes made of tightly woven fabrics to protect your skin.

3. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Keep it on hand so you can reapply it throughout the day.

4. Wear sunglasses with 99 percent to 100 percent UV absorption.

5. Wear a hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around. This is ideal because it protects areas such as the ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp that are often exposed to intense sun.

SOURCES: The National Safety Council; American Cancer Society

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