“It’s not ‘just skin cancer’ when it’s the largest organ of your body.”
Summer is finally here, which means most people will likely be spending an increased amount of time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine. Many of my very best memories include our times out on the lake or at the beach, or simply swimming with family and friends. However, while summer is a great time for making memories, it can also be very dangerous, given the increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. With July being named UV Safety Month, I thought I’d use this time to bring awareness to the harmful effects of UV rays and how you can still enjoy the sun and be protected.
Most people don’t realize UV light is a form of radiation, which is the emission of energy from any source, with the source of UV radiation being from — you guessed it — the sun. UV rays are capable of damaging the skin in as little as 15 minutes. The risk of skin damage is higher when UV radiation and the sun’s rays are at its highest, which is typically between noon and 4 p.m. on a sunny day. However, contrary to popular belief, you may still have a chance of UV damage even on a cloudy or overcast day, as 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays are able to pass through clouds.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and an estimated 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer daily. The rates in skin cancer primarily affect those in their 40s and older, but anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race, can be affected.
You can protect yourself from potential harm from UV rays by wearing sun screen, SPF protective clothing/hats, and seeking shade before needing relief. While the Food and Drug Administration recommends using a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with at least 30 or higher. The CDC states that sunscreen is not intended to be the sole source of protection from UV rays, but it should be used in combination with other approaches, as well as applied appropriately and frequently throughout one’s time spent outdoors. Raise awareness, make memories, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
About the Author
Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family