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Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Mommy Health Series : Skin Cancer Awareness

Monday Mommy Health Series
Skin Cancer Awareness Month: The Basics 1
Trish Marraty (TMN writer)

When it comes to cancer awareness, women are acutely aware of the dangers of breast cancer and early detection being the greatest cure.  Self exams in the shower and yearly trips to the gynecologist are normal precautions for most of us.  But how careful are you about protecting your skin? Here are some eye opening statistics from

Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

-Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once.

Getting some fresh air and sunshine is healthy for us and our children, so we definitely want to enjoy all that the sun has to offer. So lather on that sunscreen, put on a wide brimmed hat, and read up on the best measures to enjoy the great outdoors while protecting you and yours.

Sunscreens-what does SPF really mean and what is this UVA, UVB business?

SPF-Sun Protection Factor- it indicates how long it will take for UVB rays to redden skin when using a sunscreen, compared to how long skin would take to redden without the product. Someone using an SPF of 15 will take 15 times longer to redden than without the sunscreen. An SPF 15 screens 93 percent of the sun's UVB rays; SPF 30 protects against 97 percent; and SPF 50, 98 percent. The Skin Cancer Foundation maintains that SPFs of 15 or higher are necessary for adequate protection.
  • Application: Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside so it has time to absorb into the skin prior to sun exposure. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

-UVA/UVB-Both UVA and UVB penetrate the atmosphere and play an important role in premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), and skin cancers. They also suppress the immune system, reducing your ability to fight off these and other maladies. 
Most of us are exposed to large amounts of UVA throughout our lifetime. They are present during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can penetrate clouds and glass.

-UVA, which penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, plays a major part in skin aging and wrinkling. UVA is the dominant tanning ray, and causes damage over time. Tanning booths primarily emit UVA. The high-pressure sunlamps used in tanning salons emit doses of UVA as much as 12 times that of the sun.

-UVB, the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, tends to damage the skin's more superficial epidermal layers. The most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. However, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round. UVB rays do not significantly penetrate glass.

Since both UVA and UVB are harmful, you need sunscreen that protects from both kinds of rays. You may see the phrases multi spectrum, broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protectionon sunscreen labels, and these all indicate that some UVA protection is provided. At this time there is no concensus for indicating UVA protection levels on products in the US.

Additional Protective Measures

Find a tree: always seek the shade outdoors, especially between 10-4.

Tinted windows aren’t just for the cool kids: Consider adding UV-protective film to your car's side and rear windows as well as to house and business windows. This film blocks up to 99.9 percent of UV radiation and lets in up to 80 percent of visible light.

Buy that coral top, it may save your life: Bright-or dark-colored, lustrous clothes reflect more UV radiation than do pastels and bleached cottons; and tightly woven, loose-fitting clothes provide more of a barrier between your skin and the sun.

Look like a movie star: Broad-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses help shield the sensitive skin on your head, neck, and around the eyes - areas that usually sustain a lot of sun damage.

Put on that bronzer: Worn either as foundation or setting powder, mineral makeup gives the skin matte (no-shine) coverage and a natural-looking finish. And thanks to the sunscreen ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide in many formulations, mineral makeup can also supplement sun protection.

Check out your free skin cancer screening here

Come back next week for information about protecting your kids.

Be sun safe this season! Be Smart!

Trish Marraty is a mommy
writer for The Mommies Network and
Director-Promotions & Marketing

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