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High Risk Factors for Skin Cancer

by kelly / May, 1 2019 01:30

Photo of a woman on a beach in a white sun hate with a black trim

It’s finally May and that means Skin Cancer Awareness month. Yes there is a whole month dedicated to skin cancer. Why? Well unfortunately skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and one in five Americans will develop it in their lifetime. So it’s vital to know skin cancer’s risk factors and how to protect yourself.

UV Exposure

Ultraviolet (UV) exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers. That’s great news! It means we can actively lower our risk for skin cancer by practicing good sun protection habits such as:

  • Apply sunscreen everyday
  • Seek shade during peak sun hours from 10 AM to 2 PM
  • Dress to protect by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses.

Good sun protection habits reduce our risk to UV exposure and go a long way to allowing us to enjoy the outdoors safely, avoid getting a sunburn, and lowering our skin cancer risk.

Also avoid indoor tanning. Indoor tanning exposes people to high levels of UV radiation. A tan is not a sign of health but of skin damage. It’s a response by skin cells that UV rays have hurt them – in response they produce more pigment. Every time our skin tans we increase our risk of skin cancer.

Bottom line: stay safe in the sun and don’t tan.

High Risk Characteristics

Everyone can get skin cancer – regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity but there are characteristics that put people at a greater risk. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here are the high-risk skin cancer characteristics:

  • A lighter natural skin color
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Blond or red hair
  • Certain types and a large number of moles
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • A personal history of skin cancer

So what do you do? Well it’s important if you are at a higher risk to stay vigilant about sun protection and to get your skin regularly checked by a doctor.

Skin Cancer Awareness

Fortunately according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer if paired with good sun protection habits and regular skin check-ups.

If you want to know more, check out our Skin Cancer blog series.

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