The skin is the largest organ of the body. It keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out—acting like a soldier's armor against the things that can harm us daily. Many of us don't think to protect it, especially against one of its biggest enemies: the sun.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. It's caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays, harmful radiation given off by the sun, and artificial lights like tanning beds. Skin cancer accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the U.S. More than 90% of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
Am I at risk?
People most at risk from melanoma include those:
- With a high number of moles
- With red or fair hair, blue eyes, fair skin and freckles
- Who burn easily when in the sun
- With a history of the disease in two or more family members
How can I protect myself?
Avoid damaging UV rays! UV radiation is not felt as heat on the skin, so even on a cloudy or cool day it can be just as damaging as on a clear, sunny day. Wear a high SPF sun block when you go outside. Your risk for skin cancer doubles if you've had five or more sunburns.
Skin cancer can be found early if you know what symptoms to look for. If you notice these things, call your doctor immediately for a skin cancer screening:
- Any change on the skin, especially in the size or color of a mole or other darkly pigmented growth or spot, or a new growth
- Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a mole or bump
- Spreading of a mole, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
- A change in sensation, itchiness, tenderness, or pain of a mole or bump
Is Your Sunscreen Safe?
The 2018 sunscreen report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonpartisan organization that promotes healthy living through research and education, found that 66 percent of the 650 sunscreens it examined were harmful or ineffective.
The organization rates each sunscreen on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being safe and 10 being dangerous. It grades each product on five criteria:
- Health hazards (such as if it has an ingredient that's considered dangerous)
- UVB protection
- UVA protection
- The ratio of UVA absorbance to SPF
- How long-lasting the sunscreen is
Visit: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen to find a safe sunscreen that fits your needs.
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