May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month in Canada, a time to remind Canadians about sun safety and the importance of protecting their skin. As summer approaches, many of us are spending more time outdoors enjoying the warm weather. While basking in the sun’s golden rays can feel great, it is important to be diligent about sun safety. Most skin cancers are a result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) in sunlight. In the past 25 years, there has been a significant increase in melanoma diagnoses. The good news is you can minimize your chances of developing skin cancer by taking precautions.
Before you head outdoors, here are 4 things to consider to help maximize your sun safety:
Limit the time you spend in the sun. If you can, try to avoid it altogether during the middle of the day (between 11 a.m. and at least 3 p.m.).
Cover up. Wear a hat, sunglasses and clothing designed to protect you from sunlight. Staying in the shade and covering up is more effective than sunscreen for reducing cancer risk. It is important to cover up and apply sunscreen even when the temperature is low, the sun isn't out in full force or there's a cooling breeze: you don't have to be feeling the heat to suffer sunburn and skin damage!
Use good quality sunscreen. A water-resistant, broad-spectrum coverage sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 is recommended and should be reapplied frequently throughout the day.
Be careful when near water, sand, or snow. The sun’s rays reflect and can be harmful.
Keep yourself safe to reduce your cancer risk while enjoying the great outdoors and all it has to offer.