How to Prevent Skin Cancer – It Starts at Birth
Many people want to learn how to prevent cancer as they age. The reality of skin cancer however, is that one of the highest risks of developing it is over exposure to harmful UV radiation from the sun in infancy; the cumulative exposure to UVA and UVB radiation over many years slowly changes the DNA in the skin cells which my increase the risk of it leading to one of the three types of skin cancer if you are in a high risk category.
One million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States alone and while the sun is a major causal factor, avoiding the sun altogether is not a particularly viable option.
The Healthy Power of the Sun
The sun is the source of heat and life on Earth. The rays help the body to naturally produce vitamin D, which is required to sustain life. Outdoor activities can be used as exercise which is also important, so preventing this disease is about more than just avoiding the sun.
Sunscreens can block some of the UVA and UVB rays from damaging the skin. The use of sunscreen should start at birth and continue for the rest of your life. Many people choose to use sunscreen only during the hot months of the year, when sun damage is more noticeable in the form of sunburn and suntans. Winter poses a UV threat as well; while the UV index may be lower, the sun’s rays bounce off snowfall and can cause skin damage.
The UV index is another huge factor. The UV index offers a guideline to the danger level of the sun. The UV index rates the amount of UV reaching the Earth at any given time. The higher the number, the more quickly the damage to the skin could occur. A higher UV index does not mean more damage, it means faster damage.
Understanding Skin Specific Risk Factors
UV rays damage the skin of every person, no matter the different skin characteristics. However, it is important to note that fairer skin can burn more quickly thus leading to faster skin damage if the skin is left unprotected. Other risk factors include a previous history of melanoma, freckles and living at higher altitudes. Many prescription medications also increase the risk.
Children, babies and the elderly are especially prone to skin damage caused by the sun. Preventing this skin damage is the most important factor in preventing skin cancer. Suntans and sunburns are both skin damage that can cause skin cancer, but are not the sole cause of skin cancer. UV rays can damage the skin, especially newer and thinner skin without burning or tanning.
Back to the Baby Years
Children who are taught good skin habits take those habits with them for a lifetime. Parents can teach their children how to prevent skin cancer with good skin care and the regular use of sunscreen. Children and adults should also wear hats and sunglasses when going outdoors and limit the time spent in direct sunlight during the mid-day hours, between 10 AM and 4PM. This is the time of the day when the UV index will be the highest.