Skin cancer is one of the most common types of human cancers. One of the main reasons for skin cancer is exposure of skin to the harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun.
Did you know that it takes about eight minutes for the UV rays to travel from sun to the earth? Our eyes can detect only the light part of the radiation that comes from the sun. The radiation energy hits us in different wavelengths most of which is not visible to the human eye.
UV radiation does play an important role for all the living organisms on the earth, however, shorter the wavelength of UV radiation, more is the damage to the DNA molecule of the human body.
Certain changes to DNA molecule can produce corrupt protein to make cancerous cells or can kill the existing cells. It is therefore essential to protect ourselves from sun radiation.
Are You At Risk?
The harmful effects of UV radiation can affect anybody, but you are at higher risk if you –
- Have fair skin that tends to get burnt in the sun
- Have fair or red hair
- Have a medical history of skin cancer running the family
- Have had a sun burn before the age of 20
- Have lot of freckles and moles all over the body
Be Safe than Sorry
Damage from the sun can happen anytime when you are out in the sun. Medical experts believe that it is not safe to step out in the sun between 11am and 3pm. The warm glow of the mild early morning sunrays have more benefits for health.
If there is a need for you to be exposed to the sun, late in the morning, always cover yourself with cotton clothing and sunglasses. Do also apply a sunscreen lotion or cream with an SPF 15 or more.
Sunscreens are products that have several ingredients that block the UV radiation from penetrating the skin. Do look for sunscreen lotion that offers protection against UVA and UVB. UVA rays have longer wavelength and UVB have shorter wavelength. Both can cause severe skin damage and skin cancer.
Using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or more is advisable because it protects the skin from UVB and prevents sunburns. You should apply 1-2 ounces of sunscreen at least 30 minutes before stepping out. Remember to reapply every two hours if you are excessively sweating or swimming.
Make sure you apply the sunscreen to the entire body. Most missed spots are toes, neck, around eyes, lips, ears, hands and feet.
Head is one of the vulnerable parts that are exposed to the sun. Research indicates that skin cancer concentrates on the head than any other parts of the body.
Use large umbrellas, shady trees, large hats with brim, goggles or sunglasses, lip balm and other gears to prevent exposure to the sun. This along with regular usage of sunscreen can provide adequate protection against the risk of UV radiation and its harmful effects.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Check your skin regularly for moles, discoloration or patches on the skin that changes its color, size, and shape over the days or weeks. Other symptoms include a new growth, which is itchy, bleeds or hurts.
Apply the ABCD rule when looking for signs –
- Asymmetry – Mole has irregular shape
- Border – The edge of the mole does not appear concrete but look blurred and jagged
- Color – The mole has more than one shade
- Diameter – The size of the mole is greater than 6mm in diameter.
You must visit your doctor immediately if you notice any of the above signs.
Having a balanced and nutritious diet is the key factor in preventing skin cancer. Fish, green tea, black tea, basil, rosemary, parsley, green leafy vegetables & fresh fruits rich in Vitamin C, whole grains are some natural ways to prevent skin cancer.