Dermatologist stresses importance of sun protection to reduce cancer risk
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States, with one in five Americans are expected to develop a form of skin cancer in their lifetime.
Dr Zoe D. Draelos, consulting professor at Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina, outlines that whilst clothing is the easiest way to protect the skin from sun exposure, it may not always be practical and that is where sunscreen use comes in.
“Apply sunscreen every day. When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing,” stresses Dr Draelos.
“Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30.”
On top of this, the skin expert states that the product must also be put on properly, as inefficient application can render sunscreen pointless.
“Use one ounce of sunscreen, an amount that is about equal to the size of your palm. Thoroughly rub the product into the skin. Don't forget the top of your feet, your neck, ears, and the top of your head,” she advises.
Supplements and sunbeds
Whilst sun exposure can be dangerous, it is also a good natural source of vitamin D for the body, and Draelos highlights that supplements can be an effective way of getting vitamin D safely.
Some studies suggest that vitamin D from supplements is not as effective as vitamin D from the sun as it is processed differently however Draelos says that people should “eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, or take vitamin D supplements. Do not seek the sun.”
The dermatologist also outlines the danger of sun beds due to the UV light and encourages topical tanning applications instead.
According to scientists in the UK, tanning beds are twice as likely to cause skin cancer than sunbathing, highlighting the danger of UV exposure in this manner.
Finally, Draelos highlights that being vigilant and regularly checking the skin is of utmost importance to consumers to monitor and deal with skin cancer.
“Checking your skin and knowing your moles are key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages,”she says.
"It's critically important for people to see their board-certified dermatologist if they notice a mole or skin lesion that is changing, growing or bleeding. Skin cancer can be easily treated if detected early."