Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada and with summer just around the corner its especially important to protect yourself. An estimated 191,300 new cases of cancer will occur in Canada in 2014 (excluding about 76,100 non-melanoma skin cancers). Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and one of the most common types of cancer for young people between the ages, 15 – 29.
Some steps you can take to ensure you’re sun safe this summer include checking the UV index before going outside (UV index of three or higher, wear protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen). If you plan on taking a trip to a tropical destination such as Mexico or Hawaii, be especially careful because the closer you are to the equator, the stronger the UVR is. Seek shade when you are outside, especially between 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Most skin cancers occur on the face and neck, so make sure you use extra protection on these areas. When using sunscreen remember that it should be used along with shade and clothing, not instead of them. A sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher is most beneficial.
Indoor tanning equipment also seems to be quite popular especially among young individuals. However, indoor tanning equipment gives off UVR at levels up to five times stronger than the midday summer sun! This in turn, does more harm than the sun.
Every summer has a story and I hope you make as many great memories as possible. It’s the time of the year when your days get longer, drinks get colder and water gets warmer. I hope when you’re out enjoying it that you remember to be cautious and take care of yourself from the sun. Because yes, that tan will fade by the time the leaves start changing, but cancer, I can promise you, won’t fade as easily.
Ivana Topic is a volunteer with Canadian Cancer Society, Quesnel office and regular Observer columnist.