Intense, intermittent sun exposure can increase melanoma risk
New York, NY (March 14, 2019) – After a long, frigid winter, thousands of students are ready to head off for spring break and have some fun in the sun. Travelers should be aware that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun play a significant role in the development of skin cancer and take appropriate steps to protect themselves. Sun protection is especially important for those visiting tropical destinations, as sun exposure in these locations is more intense.
Cumulative lifetime sun damage is a major factor in developing skin cancer, but researchers have also linked intense, intermittent sun exposure to an increased risk of melanoma, one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. This kind of periodic, concentrated UV exposure frequently causes sunburn and severely damages the skin. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.
“The kind of intense sun exposure that comes with tropical vacations is especially dangerous, so even those who are dedicated to protecting their skin need to be extra cautious,” says Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Avoiding sunburn is a key part of reducing your risk of developing melanoma.”
In addition to more intense UV radiation, beach vacations can increase your likelihood of sun damage through environmental factors like water and sand — these surfaces can reflect up to 80 percent of UV radiation, so the sun’s rays are hitting you twice. If you or a student you know are planning on escaping the cold for spring break, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself from sun damage:
Cover up! Wearing more clothes may seem counterintuitive at the beach or pool, but sarongs, long sleeves and wraps will shade your skin and help keep you cool. Clothing is the first line of defense against the sun’s rays.
Accessorize: UV-blocking sunglasses will help protect your eyes and the surrounding skin from damage, while a broad-brimmed hat (with at least a three inch brim all around) will help protect your scalp, neck, face and ears.
Seek shade: Take refuge from the sun under a leafy palm tree or a large beach umbrella and try to hit the hot spots early in the morning or late in the afternoon. By avoiding the sun at its most intense (between 10 AM and 4 PM) you'll beat the crowds and save your skin!
Be Sunscreen Smart: A broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is a must for a beach vacation. Apply one ounce, or two tablespoons, every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating heavily.
About The Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. Since its inception in 1979, the Foundation has recommended following a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade and covering up with clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use. For more information, visit SkinCancer.org.
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