By: Maggie Ostrowski, Community Health Intern, Health Education Center
July is UV Safety Month! Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer found in the United States. The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. There is good news: Skin cancer can be prevented! Encourage your family and others to adopt good sunscreen wearing habits and to limit the amount of time spent in the sun. Talk with children about the harm UV rays can cause and the importance of protecting themselves from those rays. Know the importance and understand how to protect your skin.
1. Avoid being in direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its peak.
2. When going out in direct sunlight wear long sleeves and a hat for extra protection.
3. When your family is outside make sure to use a sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher to keep them protected from the harmful UV rays.
4. Once a month check your family’s skin for any changes that could be due to harmful UV rays.
Many people use tanning beds to maintain a tan throughout the year or to get a tan for special occasions like high school dances. If you have a tan, your skin has been damaged by ultraviolet rays.
Reviewing all available worldwide data — 19 international studies — a Working Group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, a branch of the World Health Organization) found a strong association between tanning bed use and melanoma risk. Across all age groups, males and females who have ever used tanning beds have a 15 percent higher risk of developing melanoma.
More alarming still, based on seven worldwide studies, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent. Be smart about your health and don’t take unnecessary risks. Remember, skin cancer can be prevented!
The Health Education Center has a free skin cancer screening program that is offered both here at LCMH and at the Chicago Ridge Mall. If you would like more information about this program or would like to register for the next program, call 708.423.5774.