Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in the world today. With skin being the largest organ in the body it is easy to understand why the likelihood of developing skin cancer in your lifetime is relatively high.
With skin also being our first line of defense to the outside world, it faces constant carcinogenic events like exposure to pollutants, ultraviolet radiation, and more.
While genetic factors to getting skin cancer cannot change, there are things that everyone can do to reduce the risk of getting skin cancer within their lifetime. Below are 4 ways you can prevent skin cancer and reduce your risk of having skin cancer symptoms.
Avoid Tanning Booths
If you get one thing from this article it is to steer clear from tanning booths. While tanning booths themselves may appear harmless to the untrained eye, tanning booths are actually quite detrimental to the cells on your skin.
Tanning booths work by using concentrated UV light to stimulate melanocytes to produce melanin much like how the sun does. Melanin is what gives you your tan color. The risk comes in due to tanning beds emitting up to twelve times the UV radiation than that of natural sunlight.
While UV light stimulates melanin production, it actually is detrimental to the DNA within skin cells. Damaged DNA has a direct correlation with cancer formation when it is incorrectly repaired by the cells’ repair mechanisms. Avoiding tanning booths greatly decreases your likelihood of developing skin cancer within your lifetime.
The single most important tool we have to prevent cancer is regular health screenings and assessments. For skin cancer in particular it may be difficult for one to continuously be on the lookout for suspicious growths. It is recommended to have an annual visit with a dermatologist to give you a skin exam.
If this is not a feasible option for your circumstances another great option is to do self-assessments monthly. A simple thing that people should check routinely is moles as these can become the sight of melanoma which is aggressive skin cancer. Things to look for in moles are symmetry, defined border, single color, size, and elevation.
Looking out for these in moles is a great way to ensure you stay on top of it and if there are any changes you can inform your doctor to get it resolved.
If skin cancer is caused by UV radiation it would seem like going outside would be a bad idea. However, going outside actually has many proven benefits such as Vitamin D production, and elevating mood. To ensure you are reducing your risk you should always wear sunscreen when you are going outside even if you are not fair-skinned.
Sunscreens utilize the Sun Protection Factor also known as SPF to classify it. It is recommended to use SPF 30 or greater if you plan on being outside for over 20 minutes.
Sunscreen should be reapplied as needed and if you are swimming or sweating it is recommended to reapply more frequently. Sunscreen protects your skin from DNA damaging UV rays and allows you to reap the health benefits of the outdoors while reducing your risk of its few downsides.
Overall skin cancer is a pretty preventative cancer when compared to other forms of cancer. BY taking the right preventative actions and taking care of your skin it will take care of you. Avoiding exposure to UV radiation and doing routine skin exams will allow you to live a mostly worry-free life knowing that you have done everything possible to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer in your lifetime.