Health Dept. tips for sun safety and skin cancer

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments announce that May has been designated as National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month and June 5-11  has been proclaimed National Sun Safety Week.  The Health Department notes that, with summer here, Americans will spend more time outdoors enjoying the sunny weather.

RaeAnn Tucker, Director of Health Promotion, states, “The Department recognizes the importance of outdoor physical activity, but we encourage people to exercise precaution when spending time in the sun, in order to reduce their risk of developing skin problems.”

“One American dies every hour from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.  With more than one million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, skin cancer is more common than all other major types of cancer combined,” adds Tucker.  “In some parts of the world, melanoma is increasing at rates faster than any other cancer.  Yet it’s probably the most preventable type of cancer since the vast majority of cases are simply due to overexposure to the sun.”

Of special concern to the Department staff is educating residents about sun safety with children’s health as the focus.  Children spend a great deal of time in the sun, getting an average of three times more exposure to the sun’s rays than adults.  Since unprotected sun exposure early in life can be life-threatening later, it is critical to form positive sun safety habits at a young age.  According to a recent study:

* More than half of an individual’s lifetime exposure to UV (ultra violet) rays occurs during childhood.
* If you have one or more blistering sunburns before the age of 18, you will be twice as likely to develop melanoma later in life.
* And, 65-90% of melanomas are caused by sun exposure and UV rays.
With these disturbing statistics in mind; the Department staff offers the following sun safety tips:
* Keep in mind the sun is strongest between 10am and 4pm.
* Always wear protective clothing when outdoors.
* Wear a wide brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses.
* Do not use tanning beds.
* Keep very young children (6 months or less) out of the sun.
* Sunscreens need to be applied liberally and evenly over all exposed areas.
* Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher whenever outdoors and reapply often.
* For children, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
* And remember, stay in the shade whenever possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*