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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
By raising awareness and sharing facts about the dangers associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun, the Skin Cancer Foundation hopes to save lives.
Fortunately, when caught early, skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. With knowledge and awareness, we can prevent it.
Check out these skin cancer facts and ways to prevent the disease.
Skin Cancer Facts
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, in the US and the world. Here’s what you need to know.
- 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer by age 70
- over age 50, more men than women develop melanoma
- in the US, 9,500+ people receive a skin cancer diagnosis every day
- 2+ people die of skin cancer every hour
- 5 or more sunburns during a lifetime doubles the risk for melanoma
- just 1 blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing skin cancer later in life
- early detection of skin cancer results in a 99% survival rate of 5 or more years
- there are more skin cancer diagnoses yearly than all other cancers combined
- ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a proven carcinogen and the leading cause of skin cancer
- UV tanning devices reclassified to Class II moderate to high risk for skin cancer, in 2014
- indoor tanning devices can emit 10 to 15 times more UV radiation than the sun at peak intensity
- the more one uses indoor tanning devices, the higher the risk for skin cancer
- overexposure to the sun causes 90% of skin aging
- using a SPF 15+ sunscreen results in 24% less skin damage
Skin Cancer Prevention
The good news is, skin cancer is preventable. It’s important to know that the sun reaches you even when you think you are avoiding it. UV radiation penetrates cloud cover and glass and bounces off of sand, snow and water. Additionally, sun damage accumulates over the years from simple daily activities such as walking outside, riding in the car, collecting the mail and playing outdoors with the kids.
Practice these tips to protect yourself.
- seek shade between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when sun is most intense. Note: during the morning or evening hours, 10 minutes of sunlight is good for our health.
- don’t get sunburned
- never use tanning devices such as tanning beds
- cover skin with loose fitting clothes, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
- use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 15+ sunscreen daily
- for extended outdoor activities, use a water resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen
- apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen over the entire body 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- keep newborn babies out of the sun. Apply sunscreen to babies six months old and older
- examine skin from head to toe, including the scalp and hairline, once a month
- see something new, unusual or changing on your skin? Get checked immediately.
Foods That Help Prevent Skin Cancer
There’s growing evidence that highly nutritious foods can help prevent skin cancer. It’s simple, really. Eat as healthily as you can, including foods that are rich in antioxidants.
UV exposure generates unstable free radicals that create inflammation in the body. Those free radicals also damage cells and the skin’s DNA. DNA damage causes changes genetically, resulting in mutations that lead to skin cancer.
Antioxidants fight free radicals, preventing inflammation and cell damage. While supplements are helpful when nutrient rich foods aren’t available, for the best protection against free radicals, eat your nutrition.
Include the following antioxidant nutrients:
This nutrient, found in orange fruits and veggies, converts to vitamin A in the body. Not only does beta carotene help prevent skin cancer, it boosts the immune system too.
- sweet potatoes
This is the red pigment found in certain foods. Studies discovered that people eating foods rich in lycopene experienced 40% less sunburns. It also lowers the risks of other cancers besides skin cancer.
- tomatoes, including tomato products such as tomato paste or sauce
- red, orange and yellow peppers
- pink grapefruit
- Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s inhibit a chemical called COX-2 that causes skin cancers to grow. They also reduce inflammation.
- chia seeds
- Brussels sprouts
- algal oil – derived from algae
- hemp seeds
Drinking green tea helps prevent skin cancer due to its powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Polyphenols in green tea repair DNA in sun exposed skin, reducing cell damage.
This nutrient lowers the risk of all types of cancers and decreases cancer deaths.
- Brazil nuts
- brown rice
- lentils and legumes
This vitamin helps calm inflammation and contains properties that make it toxic to cancer cells.
- citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges
- berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
- leafy greens
- green peppers
A proven antioxidant, vitamin E helps to prevent damage from free radicals, absorbs energy from UV light and contains potent anti-inflammatory properties. It also improves the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier.
- almonds and other nuts
- sunflower seeds and other seeds
Zinc keeps the immune system healthy to effectively fight cancer. It also activates antioxidants in the body and increases the level of proteins involved in DNA repair.
- black beans
Protect Your Skin This Summer
As summer approaches, inviting you to play and explore more outdoors, protect your skin with these simple tips. And stay aware of changes or any unusual spots on the skin.
Don’t become one of the 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed this year. Take care of your body and unite against this disease. Together we can save lives!
For more information, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.
10 thoughts on “Prevent Skin Cancer”
Yes! So important to protect our delicate skin. I love the foods you listed to help prevent skin cancer. I eat all of them on a regular basis so hopefully that will help keep me safe 🙏
I lived in South Florida for 33 years but used sunblock every day. At 73 I have only had 1 skin cancer removed which I think is pretty good.
Living in New Mexico, the solar index is very high – were at high altitude, and a desert, so the air is “thin.” The incidence of skin cancers is pretty high here, too.
You can feel that you need to get out of the sun. I took a group of Girl Scouts to Oregon one summer for an international campout, and these girls from NM got really sunburned – because it didn’t even feel like we were getting any sun, compared to home.
That’s a good point! We can end up getting too much sun when in a new to us environment.
A few weeks after my 35th birthday, I was diagnosed with skin cancer and had a section of my shoulder cut out. It was a total shock to me. Thank goodness I have noticed a strange red spot on my shoulder and got it checked out. I will admit that as a lifelong competitive swimmer who spent every summer outside, I did not take skin cancer seriously at all before this incident. Luckily, it’s very treatable and preventable. I hope people take these recommendations seriously.
So glad you were aware!
Great information. The sun is such a catch 22…love to be out in it, but dangerous at the same time.
I love the sun, but I am sure to slather on the sunscreen when I know I am going to be out for long periods of time. Great info in this article!