Skin Cancer: Staying Safe Under the Sun

Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Canada. You might think that Canada doesn’t even get that much sun, but it has one of the highest mortality rates when it comes to skin cancer. You can’t just avoid the sun, but you can take a few measures to protect yourself from its harmful UV rays.

Tint Your Car Windows

Your short drives to work and back regularly expose you to a barrage of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It might not feel like being outdoors since you’re inside your car, but those short minutes inside your vehicle counts as chronic exposure to UV. Your daily commute probably exposes you to more UV radiation than any other activity unless you work under the sun. Researchers have found that the majority of skin cancers occur at the left side of the body in the US and Canada, but the reverse is true in the UK and Australia. This was attributed to sun exposure while driving. Get your car windows tinted with UV filtering film. Your windshield will most likely have UV protection, but your windows wouldn’t. Any car shop that does repairs, especially on auto glass, will probably have UV filtering films.

Wear a Hat

Canada’s own, Hugh Jackman is a proud proponent of wearing hats. The actor has had a few bouts with skin cancer and is now quite careful with his sun exposure. Jackman isn’t alone in this practice, as wearing wide-brimmed hats has become quite a trend among celebrities and models. Protective clothing is essential in avoiding UV exposure, and hats are some of the best things you can wear. A wide-brimmed helmet protects your face and parts of your neck, preventing direct UV exposure. Caps aren’t as effective, leaving parts of your face and most of your neck vulnerable to UV rays. If the UV index is unusually high, you might want to bring an umbrella. Using an umbrella for sunny days is quite common in Asian countries, and the practice is growing in popularity in Canada.

Apply Sunscreen

applying sunscreen

If the UV index exceeds 3 (2 if you have sensitive skin), it’s probably time to apply some sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks more than 90 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Higher SPF ratings will block more UV, but an SPF of 30 is considered quite suitable. Sunscreen allows you to go out in the sun without damaging your skin, but it loses its efficacy in a couple of hours. Sweating and exposure to water can cut this time in half, so make sure to re-apply when necessary. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, allowing it to dry and permeate your skin. Forget about tanning. Getting a tan can make you think that your skin looks healthier, but a tan is a sign of damaged skin.

Skin cancer is a serious problem but one that can easily be avoided. Keep your sun exposure to a minimum, note the UV index before going out, and take measures that can keep you safe from harmful UV radiation.

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