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Friday, July 24, 2015

Play it safe in the sun


Valerie Fraser, Canadian Cancer Society

With summer heat in full swing and the days longer, it’s natural to want to get out and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Although the sun is the top source of vitamin D – which helps our bodies absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones - too much exposure can cause irreversible skin damage and skin cancer.

Did you know just one blistering sunburn as a child or teenager increases your risk of developing melanoma (the most aggressive type of skin cancer) later in life? And a sunburn is only one risk factor for skin cancer. Tanned skin is also a sign of damaged skin. Even though the skin can repair surface damage like a tan or sunburn, UV-damage to skin cells and DNA remains and builds up over time – so it may take years to become apparent.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada; however, it’s also one of the easiest to prevent. Use SunSense when you’re outside to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. This includes:
  • covering up: wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses 
  • using sunscreen properly: generously apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and reapply often 
  • limiting direct exposure to the sun: plan your activities so you’re not outdoors between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest 

Nobody wants to hibernate in the house during the summer months, so go out and safely enjoy the weather by protecting you and your family from getting too much sun. Learn more at cancer.ca/sunsafety.

Valerie Fraser is the Canadian Cancer Society Community Developer, Southern Alberta. If you have questions about the Society’s programs and services, please contact her at 403-581-1039 or valerie.fraser@cancer.ab.ca.

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