May brings with it the return of sunny days and Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with one in five people developing it in his lifetime. While sunshine is a healthy source of Vitamin D, overexposure can bring unwanted results. Here are some tips and resources to keep you safe during the upcoming summer months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UV damage can occur even on cloudy days, as clouds only filter — not block — the sun’s rays. Further, sidewalks, water, and even sand can reflect sunlight, so even if you’re in the shade, you may consider wearing proper protective gear such as hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing. Those with the skin condition vitiligo (a rare condition more common in those with Type 1 diabetes in which pigment-producing cells in the skin are lost, resulting in discolored patches) should be especially careful to use SPF 15+ sunscreen to avoid sunburn. And everyone should make sure they apply sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays whenever outdoors for an extended period of time. Anytime you tan or burn, your skin is showing some signs of damage. Don’t forget that the sun’s rays aren’t the only source of skin cancer: Studies have shown a 75% increase in the risk of skin cancer for those who used tanning beds before the age of 35.
What can you do to protect yourself? You can learn more and participate in events like “Don’t Fry Day,” which raise awareness of skin cancer. You can also get a skin cancer screening. On May 14, Sam’s Club wholesale stores around the country will be holding skin cancer screenings for both members and nonmembers. The first 100 participants will receive a free screening. To find a store near you with this and other health screenings (including overall health, blood pressure, and cholesterol), you can visit Sam’s Club’s Healthy Living Events page.
For more information about skin cancer and steps you can take to avoid it, you can visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/SkinCancer/ and also http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/what_cdc_is_doing/toolkit.htm, a resource for youths.
This blog entry was written by Web Intern Helen Zhu.