Sunburn Today, Skin Cancer Tomorrow?

While enjoying the extra hours of summer sunshine, keep an eye on your exposure to avoid developing skin cancer.

Repeated, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight (plus man-made sources like tanning beds) increases your risk of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Most skin cancers probably come from exposure that happened many years ago.

Just one sunburn can double the lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. Natural bodies of water, sand and pools all reflect the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays, sunburns can happen even on cloudy days. (Snow also reflects UV light, so you can get a sunburn during the winter too.)

Protect yourself by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, UV-protected clothing and UV-blocking sunglasses. Most importantly, apply sunblock (rated at least 30 SPF) before going out and reapply it every two hours while you’re outside.

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It appears as one of three types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. They may appear in different forms and vary in severity (every hour, one person dies from melanoma), but skin cancers have one thing in common: They are preventable. A few simple precautions, including annual skin exams, go a long way toward protecting your health.

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