CHARLOTTE, NC – News Release – Summer is upon us, and the Friday before Memorial Day weekend – May 22 – has been designated by the American Cancer Society and the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention as “Don’t Fry Day” to encourage sun safety awareness.
As warmer weather approaches and millions of people prepare to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, the risk for ultraviolet (UV) damage of the skin increases. By far the most common type of cancer in the U.S., skin cancer is on the rise. More than 5.4 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year, more than all other cancers combined.
The American Cancer Society estimates 100,350 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, will be diagnosed in the U.S., and about 6,850 people are expected to die of it in 2020.
“Don’t Fry Day is a good reminder to protect your skin from harmful UV rays,” says Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. “The best way to help prevent skin cancer is to avoid the sun and indoor tanning altogether. However, if you must be outdoors, protect your skin to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. It’s especially important to protect children from harmful effects of the sun because sunburns during childhood increase the risk of getting skin cancer later in life.”
To reduce your risk, Dr. Lichtenfeld suggests wearing protective clothing, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, and putting on a hat and sunglasses.
Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation. Individuals with lighter-toned skin are more susceptible to UV damage, although people of all races and ethnicities can be at risk for skin cancer. Those who have a family history of skin cancer, plenty of moles or freckles, or a history of severe sunburns early in life are at a higher risk of skin cancer as well. To minimize the harmful effects of excessive and unprotected sun exposure, protection from intense UV radiation should be a life-long practice for everyone.
“It’s imperative to catch skin cancer early, when it’s in the most treatable and curable stages,” says Dr. Lichtenfeld. “Nothing increases cancer survival rates more than early detection, and nothing lowers skin cancer rates more than prevention. Any change in appearance on your skin should be checked out by a medical professional.”
Enjoy the great outdoors this summer, but remember to protect your skin and take these steps to stay sun-safe:
- Cover up: When you are in the sun, wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light.
- Use sunscreen: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply at least every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Seek shade: Remain out of the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) when UV rays are strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: Both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.
For more information on sun safety, visit cancer.org/dontfryday.