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Is the Sun Eating You Alive?

I’m a safety advocate, and I can tell you that cancer is not a word I want my doctor to talk to me about. I can tell you that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States according to the “Skin Cancer Foundation.” I can tell you that you need to protect yourself prevent skin cancerand your loved ones from the harmful rays of the sun by wearing the correct PPE, and Sun Block. I can tell you that people do indeed die from this. I can tell you to stay out of tanning beds. Those of you who work outdoors are more at risk. Your mother used to tell you to wear a hat when it was winter, she’s telling you now to wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun Below are the things I can’t tell you and is better left to those who can.

The following information is taken from multiple sources including the “Skin Cancer Foundation”:

Your skin works as a barrier to protect your body against things like water loss, bacteria, and other harmful contaminants. The outermost layer, the epidermis, is the layer in constant contact with the environment. While it sheds skin cells regularly, it can sustain damage from the sun, infection, or cuts and scrapes. The epidermis is made up of several different types of cells.

Basal cells make up the lowest layer of the epidermis, the basal layer. Cancer inside this area is known as basal cell carcinoma, and it comprises about 80 percent of all cases of skin cancer (Columbia University, 2009). Most common in the head and neck, basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing cancer that rarely spreads to other parts of the body. It usually shows on skin as raised, waxy pink bumps. Infiltrative basal cell carcinoma can appear translucent with blood vessels near the skin’s surface.

Squamous cell carcinoma affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis. It is typically more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma. It appears as red, scaly, and rough skin lesions, typically on sun-exposed areas such as the hands, head, neck, lips, and ears. Similar red patches may be squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen’s disease), the earliest form of squamous cell cancer.

Less common than other types, melanoma is by far the most dangerous, causing about 75 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths (American Melanoma Foundation, 2009). It occurs in the skin cells that create pigment, and it creates moles or lesions that follow an ABCDE pattern in their irregularities:

- asymmetrical shape - border irregularities - color - diameter - evolution of the lesion

While there are several different types of skin cancers, most share the same risk factors, including:

- prolonged exposure to UV rays found in sunlight - being over the age of 40 - family history of skin cancer - fair complexion - organ transplant

However, young people or those with dark complexion can still develop skin cancer.

The quicker skin cancer is detected, the better the long-term outlook. Check your skin regularly. If you notice abnormalities, consult a dermatologist for a complete examination. Learn how to self-examine your skin.

Prevention

Wear Sunblock containing both UVA and UVB Protection. Chemical sunscreens, such as those containing the ingredient Mexoryl, work by absorbing damaging ultraviolet light. Physical sunscreens, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, reflect light like an armored coating rather than absorb it.

Wear Sun Protective Clothing

Wear long-sleeves, pants or a long-skirt, and a broad-brimmed hat to help shield your skin from the sun's harmful rays. It's also important to protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Avoid the Sun at Prime Hours

The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Therefore, those are the times when you are more likely to get a sunburn or receive sun damage. Staying out of the sun during those hours by remaining indoors or seeking shade under an umbrella can help prevent skin cancer.

There you have it. We are sometimes our own worst enemies we are a vain breed and we chase after the latest good look at the risk of our health. Let the buyer beware. Life is too short to suffer the effects of vanity. Please wear protection against the effects of the sun even on cloudy days, and self-inspect.

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