Letters for 07-17-2014
Summer Raises Skin Risks
With the Dog Days of summer still ahead, temperatures around Union Parish are reaching into the 90s on an almost daily basis, with heat indices pushing past 100 degrees.
The warm weather has many people hitting Lake D’Arbonne, heading out to the garden or enjoying a variety of other outdoor activities. While many people enjoy the tanned skin that comes along with these activities, the truth is tanned skin is not healthy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. While some people have a much higher chance of getting skin cancer, people can help lower their risk by avoiding exposure to ultraviolet light — both outdoors and in tanning beds.
General risk factors for developing skin cancer are a lighter natural skin color; a family or personal history of skin cancer; exposure to the sun; a history of sunburns — especially early in life; a history of indoor tanning, skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily or becomes painful in the sun; blue or green eyes; blond or red hair and certain types and/or a large number of moles.
According to the CDC, a tan is the body’s response to injury. A tan is skin cells signaling that UV rays have hurt them by producing more pigment. While everyone can get skin cancer, people who burn easily and frequently are at the greatest risk.
To reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, the CDC recommends staying in the shade, especially during the midday hours; wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs; wearing a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck; wearing sunglasses; using sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and avoiding indoor tanning.
In 2010, the most recent year for which numbers are available, 61,061 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin. That same year, 9,154 people died from skin cancer. In both groups, more men were affected than women.
While tanned skin might be considered beautiful in our society, frequent tanning and sun exposure can be deadly.
So, when you head outside this summer, don’t forget your most important accessories — some sunscreen and a big, floppy hat. Your body will definitely thank you for it later.