Skin cancer statistics
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:
• On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five sunburns, but just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
• When detected early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%.
• In the United States, more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and more than two people die of the disease every hour.
• Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40% and melanoma by 50%.
Preventing skin cancer, aging
• Clothing is the best defense against skin cancer and an easy way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The more skin you can cover, the better, with light-colored clothes.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
• Wear SPF15 or higher sunscreen daily and SPF30 or higher sunscreen for extended outdoor activity.
• Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
• Examine your skin from head to toe monthly and have it checked by a dermatologist yearly.
For more information about skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment, visit SkinCancer.org or www.comelanoma.org.
Coloradans love to tout the state’s sunshine with the warmth and mood boost it provides, but the sun’s rays also are something to be reckoned with, especially as we get into the swing of summer.
Skin-care experts and doctors say the two biggest issues are preventing skin cancer and implementing anti-aging measures, especially since the sun’s ultraviolet light can be so damaging.
“A healthy dose of sunlight is really good for our bodies because our bodies make vitamin D,” said Brooke Sarmiento, founder and creator of Bee-Och skin-care products based in Fort Lupton. “(Sunlight) boosts mood, helps boost immunity and can ward off infections.”
However, too much sunlight is not a good thing, the experts said, noting that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States than all other cancers combined.
In addition, sun can damage skin, causing it to age prematurely. Ultraviolet rays penetrate into the skin, damaging the elastic fibers that keep skin firm and accelerating production of the pigment melatonin, allowing wrinkles to develop and age spots to appear.
Neither is good for skin, which is the body’s largest organ, and both are mostly preventable.
The Skin Cancer Foundation and the Colorado Melanoma Foundation preach constantly about the benefits of sunscreen every day, not just when you are planning a day in the sun. Even better, wear a hat and clothing to keep skin from sun exposure or stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially during the hottest part of the day.
Not all sunscreens are created equal, the experts say, and it’s important for people to follow the directions.
The Skin Cancer Foundation offers a seal of recommendation on sunscreens and other skin-care products that have an SPF — which stands for sun protection factor — of at least 15. SPF is a calculation of the difference between how quickly the skin will burn in the sun without the product and with the product. The higher the number, the longer the skin is protected.
There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens use ultraviolet light-filtering chemicals while mineral sunscreens usually are powders that provide a physical barrier to the sun, Sarmiento explained.
It’s important to take care of your skin and to educate yourself about the products you use, said Jennifer Morris of the Littleton area, who sells Beautycounter products.
“Just because it’s on the shelf (in the store) doesn’t mean that it’s good for you,” Sarmiento added.
Skin-care advocates suggest learning about the products’ ingredients because not all lotions, soaps and sunscreens are created equal.
A skin-care routine that includes washing your face nightly and moisturizing daily is a must, they said, agreeing that moisturizers whose first ingredient is water is probably not the best.
“I’m huge on waterless products,” Sarmiento said, noting that the moisturizers she has created use essential oils that absorb into the skin. “Oil-based products provide longer hydration because it’s not just water and alcohols.”
Morris and Sarmiento suggested staying away from products with fragrances because most are chemically created rather than created from natural sources.
A healthy respect for the sun — both its positive and its negative attributes — is a must during the summer to make the most of the Colorado outdoors.
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