GUIZERIX: Enjoy summer sun responsibly — your life depends on it

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2023

It’s the first official day of summer — the longest day of the year — and with that comes my annual reminder to practice safe sun.

It takes such a small time to slather on the SPF before going outside, but it can make a huge difference in the amount of time you have to enjoy your loved ones throughout your life. I lost my father to stage IV melanoma and, although his diagnosis was the result of genetics and not overexposure to harmful UV rays, my heart breaks that so many people choose not to take steps to prevent this disease.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, as well as one of the most deadly. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. One in five adults will develop skin cancer before they reach age 70.

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Non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinomas, increased by 77 percent between 1994 and 2014. This can be largely attributed to the rise in popularity of tanning beds, as approximately 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources.

While an unlucky few are genetically predisposed to skin cancers, the majority of us can do a few simple things to exercise caution while still enjoying the summer sun.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are a few simple steps and tips to keep in mind for sun safety.

  • Stay in the shade when possible. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection, when possible. For more effective sun protection, select clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label.
  • Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Use sunscreen every time you’re going to be outside, even on cloudy days.

Another huge tip that could save your life — or at least your skin — is to regularly perform skin checks. Examine your body regularly and notify a dermatologist if you discover any spots on your skin that have changed color, grown in size or are suddenly bleeding or itchy.

The earlier skin cancer is detected, the more treatable it is.

Please slather on the sunscreen this year. An ounce of prevention could be the difference between life and death.