This summer, the Canadian Cancer Society wants to remind the community to practice sun safety while enjoying the outdoors. Natural sunlight is important for good health. However, too much exposure to the sun’s rays can cause skin cancer and eye problems. Being safe in the sun can go a long way toward protecting you and your family.
Sun burns and sun damage build up over time and have a cumulative effect on skin, making people more susceptible to skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Canada. In 2010, an estimated 80,800 Canadians will be diagnosed with skin cancer. 5,300 of these cases are melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
Follow these guidelines to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of the sun and ultraviolet (UV) radiation:
- Reduce exposure to the sun when its rays are most intense between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., or when the UV Index is 3 or more.
- Seek out shade. If you can’t find shade, create your own. Take along an umbrella – that way you can have shade wherever you need it.
- Slip on clothing that is loose fitting – like a t-shirt, tightly woven and lightweight. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t burn is to cover up.
- Don’t forget to grab your hat on your way out! Most skin cancers happen on the face and neck. These areas need extra protection. Wear a hat with a wide brim that covers your head, face, ears and neck.
- Wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Sunglasses can help prevent damage to your eyes by blocking a large amount of UV rays. Keep your shades on and make sure your children wear them too.
- Apply sunscreen generously with SPF #15 or higher. If you will be outside for most of the day, use SPF #30. Look for “broad spectrum” on the label. This means that the sunscreen offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.Remember, sunscreen can’t block all the sun’s rays, so use it along with shade, clothing and hats, not instead of them.
- Keep babies out of the direct sun
It’s important to remember that indoors or outdoors, there is no safe way to get a tan. Tanning beds and sun lamps are not a safe alternative. The more you use tanning beds and sun lamps, the greater your risk of getting skin cancer.
Enjoy the sun safely! For more information, visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s website at www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.
Patti Moore, Health Promotion Coordinator
Canadian Cancer Society, Kootenay Region