Extended days magnify cancer risks associated with exposure to sun's rays
Now that daylight-saving time has come, an extra hour means an extra hour of sun protection or sunscreen.
Every year, people look forward to daylight-saving time, bringing with it springtime and the increased chance of skin cancer.
The disease, a medical condition in which cancer cells form on the outer layers of skin, is the most prevalent form of cancer.
Melanoma is the most serious kind of skin cancer and the risk of getting the disease has doubled in the last decade.
If diagnosed in the early stages and removed while the cancer is still thin, it is curable in almost all cases.
The effect ultraviolet light has on skin depends on the duration and intensity of exposure, according to health experts.
Genetic background can determine how skin will react to the amount of exposure received.
Even if local residents do not sunburn, sensitive areas such as lips, nose and palms of hands should be protected.
Skin cancer can also be hereditary. If someone in your family has had it, you have a higher risk of getting it too.
Even though more than 90 percent of skin cancer is caused by sun exposure, a recent research study showed that fewer than 33 percent of adults and children use sunscreen on a regular basis.
In 2005, state and national public health agencies indicate that more than one million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer.
An estimated one in seven people will have some kind of cancer in their lifetime, and just one serious sunburn can increase the chance by up to 50 percent.
Nationally, there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in women between the ages of 25 and 29, and melanoma kills more young women every year than any other cancer.
Men are less likely to apply sunscreen than women are and are more likely to get skin cancer.
Men older than the age of 40 spend the most time outdoors and get the highest doses of ultraviolet radiation, which causes skin cancer.
Skin cancer is also the number one form of cancer for men older than 50, ahead of prostate, colon and lung cancer, but it is the easiest kind of cancer to prevent.
To lessen chances of getting skin cancer, you should minimize your exposure to the sun during midday. Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to every visible part of your body, and reapply every two hours. You should also reapply after swimming or perspiring. Wear clothing that covers your entire body and face, a hat should provide coverage for both the face and the back of the neck. Avoid all exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlamps and tanning parlors.
"It's important to remember to keep skin protected, even when the sun may not feel that strong," said Perry Robins, MD, president and founder of the Skin Cancer Foundation. "Just two to three minutes of sun exposure can begin to break down the collagen that keeps skin firm."
Excessive tanning can also make your skin wrinkled and make you look older. Just two to three minutes of sun exposure can begin to break down the collagen that keeps the firmness in your skin. If these steps were put into practice by most people, it would eliminate 100,000 cases of cancer cases and 60,000 cancer related deaths.
Since 80 percent of lifetime exposure to ultraviolet radiation or sun exposure is obtained by the time you are 18 years old, always apply sunscreen liberally and frequently to small children six months of age and older. Also keep children from excessive sun exposure when the sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Do not use sunscreen on children younger than six months of age, parents should severely limit their exposure to the sun.
Along with prevention, and an annual examination from your physician, self-examination can be very helpful in preventing skin cancer from metastasizing or spreading. Most people have brownish spots on them, including freckles, birthmarks and moles, but if one of these changes in any way or grows overtime, you should have it looked at immediately by your physician. Other warning signs can be itching of a mole, or skin around a mole turning red, blotchy, scaliness or crusting over the top.
The Skin Cancer Foundation likes to remind everyone to always use sunscreen product with an SPF 15 or higher as a part of their daily grooming routine. Everyone needs to remember to keep their skin protected even when it's cloudy outside.