Protect yourself from skin cancer risks by knowing the truth about sun safety.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is labeled as the deadliest. May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, focusing a spotlight on the disease and the risk factors.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, from the sun or tanning beds, is the main risk factor for melanoma. You can reduce your melanoma risk by debunking the myths of sun safety and knowing the facts.
Myth: You don't have to worry about applying sunscreen on a cloudy day.
Fact: Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of UV rays from the sun can seep through the clouds and damage your skin.
Myth: Applying sunscreen with higher SPF provides all day protection.
Fact: Sunscreen is only effective if used correctly. You should apply about two tablespoons of sunscreen all over your body 30 minutes before going out into the sun. More importantly, you must reapply the sunscreen about every two hours.
Myth: Sunscreen with the highest SPF is the best protection.
Fact: SPF is only half of the equation. To have the best protection, your sunscreen should have "broad spectrum" protection. Broad spectrum provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Myth: Getting a base tan prevents sunburn.
Fact: The truth is, any tan cause by UV exposure (as opposed to a spray tan) is damaging to the skin. According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan is the skin's response to UV damage. That response can develop into cancer.
Myth: Tanning beds are safer than being out in the sun.
Fact: Both indoor and outdoor UV exposure is dangerous. In fact, the CDC reports that people who start using indoor tanning facilities before the age of 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of melanoma.