Protect your skin

As we become busier outdoors these days as soccer practice spectators, football practice observers, backyard pool lifeguards and gardening aficiandos, let us all remember the dangers of the sun.

It’s a fact: Skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the United States, but, fortunately, it also is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

About one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during his or her lifetime, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In fact, each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon, according to officials.

And while there’s good news with the incidences of many common cancers falling, there’s also the fact that cases of melanoma continue to increase at an alarming rate, even with the warnings posted by medical professionals.

Melanoma accounts for less than 1 percent of skin cancer cases, but is the vast majority of skin cancer deaths, the foundation reported.

Did you know that women ages 49 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast and thyroid cancers.

The survival rate for persons diagnosed early with melanoma is about 98 percent. But the survival rate falls to 17 percent for those with advanced stages of the disease.

Studies have shown that a person gets about 80 percent of lifetime sun exposure by age 18, with melanoma being the second most common form of cancer for young adults between the ages of 15 and 29.

So, this should serve as a reminder that everyone needs to remember some safety tips to avoid sunburn and limiting exposure to the harmful affects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

Since most of a lifetime exposure to the sun comes early in life, it is important to protect infants, children and teenagers from blistering sunburns.

The most obvious way to protect yourself from harmful UV radiation is to stay out of the sun. Stay indoors or find shade in the middle of the day when UV radiation is strongest, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon, when UV radiation is typically one-third of what it is at midday.

If you have to be outside in the sun, remember to cover the skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants, wide-brimmed hats and wear sunglasses.

Another form of protection is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 on all exposed skin. Apply the sunscreen at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes, before heading out in the sun.

Also, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends checking your “birthday suit” on your birthday. Seek a dermatologist’s help if you notice any changes in your skin.

So please take precautions as you head outdoors during these busy days of summer. Being mindful now could save lives.