Skin Cancer Prevention

Fighting Skin Cancer

Obviously the best way to avoid skin cancer would be to stay out of the sun all together, but that would be completely impractical for most people and not much fun at all!

It's a fact that skin cancer is on the increase as millions of people around the globe enjoy more sunshine holidays and outdoor pursuits. It's something that governments around the world are beginning to notice and worry about. Education programs warning people of the dangers of the sun are becoming more common as nations wake up to the fact that skin cancer could become an epidemic. 

SLIP, SLAP, SLOP – SUN SMART

The Australians had the "Slip, Slap, Slop" campaign - slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. And in the UK there was the SMART message - Stay in the shade; Make sure you never burn; Always cover up; Remember to take extra care with children; Then use a factor 15+ sunscreen.

The advice isn't rocket science. In fact it is blindingly obvious - but if the rising incidences of skin cancer are anything to go by, there are still far too many people choosing to ignore it.

In fairness, the rising stats could be down to the fact that a generation ago people simply weren't aware of the dangers of the sun. Skin cancer is very slow growing and sun damage done as a child might not develop into cancer until decades later.

Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable. Several cases of sunburn as a child can treble the risk of a malignant melanoma later in life. So it's vital to protect youngsters from Day One.

So what can we do about it? Key skin cancer prevention measures include:

Staying Out of the Midday Sun

The sun is hottest between 11am and 3pm so limit your exposure during this time. Southern Europe has the right idea by having siestas between these hours!

Protective Clothing

Forget trendy looking baseball caps - a wide brimmed hat is great for protecting the face, neck and eyes. Foreign Legion type hats are great for kids. Good quality sunglasses for both adults and children protect the eyes. Tightly woven loose fitting clothing can also provide protection. In many countries including the UK , Australia and America , clothing manufacturers - particularly those specializing in kids' clothing - are starting to put sun protection information labels in clothes. Just as with suntan lotion the higher the factor, the more protective the clothes are. Children's swimsuits, which cover the shoulders and legs, are now starting to be made from protective material.

Slap on the Sunscreen

Use at least factor 15. The higher factor creams are far more expensive but don't give much more protection than a 15. For example with factor 15 around 7% of the sun's harmful rays get through. The figure is 2% with factor 60. Chose a "broad spectrum" sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays and keep on applying it liberally every two hours and after swimming.

Watch the UV Index

Weather forecasts in many countries now give the UV index. The higher it is, the more important it is to take protective measures.

Do the shadow test

If your shadow is shorter than you - seek the shade, as this means the UV rays are very high.

Use fake tans!

A tan, even though it might look good, is a sign of skin damage. You can get the same results from any one of the great fake tans on the market. They look completely natural and last for days.

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