5 Myths About Protecting Yourself from Skin Cancer

Sara spends much of her summer near the beach. She lives in a

mild climate and is very athletic. She loves to swim, bike and

play games outdoors. Sara knows the dangers of the sun and so she

opts for tanning salons to get her ‘golden glow’ while being sure

to apply sunscreen every day before heading out.

Joseph lives in a cooler, northern climate. The summers can be

very humid, but most of the year is mild or even below freezing

during the harshest winter months. The beach has never been much

of a draw for him and he spends most of his time doing indoor

activities or at his job. Joseph doesn’t worry about sunscreen

and only had one sunburn that he can remember and that was when

he was a child.


Which of these examples do you most associate yourself with? Did

you know that Sara and Joseph are both at risk of developing skin

cancer? We have all heard the warnings about the dangers of sun

exposure. We know all about the importance of wearing sunscreen

and hats. But are YOU protected from skin cancer? Consider these

myths and facts:

MYTH ONE: Tanning Beds are Safer than the Sun

20 minutes of exposure in a tanning bed is roughly equivalent to

four hours in the sun. Although sun beds use UVA rather than UVB

rays, ‘The Skin Cancer Answer’ states that “UV-A penetrates more

deeply into the skin than UV-B, can cause skin cancer, and may

suppress the immune system.”

MYTH TWO: Wearing Sunscreen at the Beach is Protection

85 percent of UV rays can even make it through on cloudy days.

That means you are equally at risk in the car, walking the dog or

letting your children out to play at any time of year – even when

you’re not at the beach. Of course, you are usually less attired

at the beach and so covering up is recommended even when wearing

sunscreen. Sunscreen also wears off with sweat and water and

should always be applied every two hours or after getting wet.

MYTH THREE: Taking Care Of Your Skin Now Will Protect You

Sadly, skin cancer can take 20 or more years to develop. The Skin

Cancer Foundation states that most people receive about 80

percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18.

Just one blistering sunburn in childhood is estimated to double

the risk of melanoma later in life. Taking better care now will

reduce the risk, but not eliminate the damage already done.

MYTH FOUR: Having a Tan Means You’re More Protected

Dark skinned individuals are less likely to develop cancer, but

tanned skin is actually damaged skin. Repeated tanning injures

the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer.

MYTH FIVE: You Can’t get Burned on Overcast Days

Just because the sun is hidden by some cloud does not mean that

you don’t need protection from the harmful effects of the suns rays.

So how do you plan to protect your family this year? Some

suggestions are to limit exposure to the sun – especially for

infants. Examine your skin for early signs of damage. Use a

sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and apply it at least 30 minutes

before exposure and every two hours after that. Teach your

children good safety habits and be sure you and they are covered

up when outdoors. Have fun and be safe.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes

only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any

disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any

health care program.

4 Skin Cancer Myths Debunked

How much do you know about skin cancer? The reality is that many people are unaware of the dangers associated with this serious medical condition. Find out the truth behind some of the most widespread myths. This will help you to protect yourself and your loved ones in the best possible way.

Only old people get it.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about skin cancer. The statistical data shows that the incidence of melanoma, which is the deadliest of all types, in people aged between 18 and 39 increased by 800% between 1970 and 2010. In most countries around the globe, melanoma is the most common type of cancer in this age group. Another alarming fact is that the number of children between the ages of 0 and 19 diagnosed with this condition increases at a rate of about 2% on an annual basis.

People with darker complexion are safe.

It is true that these people have a lower risk of this condition. However, there are other factors which put them in danger. Firstly, they are more likely to get cancerous growths which are harder to notice. The growths may appear along the hair line, behind the ears and even under the nails. Furthermore, late-stage diagnoses are more prevalent in people of colour. When the condition is diagnosed at a later stage, the chances of survival are naturally much lower.

It appears only in the skin areas which get the most sun.

This is another huge myth. Cancerous tumours including moles can grow on all parts of the body. Often, they appear in areas which get the least sun, if any, such as the inner side of the thighs and the pubic area. Malignant growths can appear even on the soles. That is why every part of the skin must be carefully examined.

Tanned skin is better protected.

This is totally not true. Tanned skin is actually damaged skin. Your skin gets darker because it produces more melanin, a pigment which is intended to protect the cells from damage. Tanning can increase your risk of skin cancer. Furthermore, it speeds up ageing. It leads to fine lines, wrinkles and spots which are difficult to treat.

No one is perfectly safe from skin cancer. People of all ages and ethnicities should avoid outdoor activities between 10 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. If they go outside, they must wear sunscreen and protective clothing and accessories. The use of tanning beds should be avoided. Regular mole checks are important as well.

Debunking Skin Cancer Myths

There was once a time, when hearing that someone is suffering from cancer was a rare thing, because cancer was not a prominent disease. However, today, most people know someone who is suffering from cancer in some part of their body. Skin cancer has become one of the most prevalent types of cancer.

What is interesting is that while there are several things that people do not know about skin cancer, there are just as many myths associated with it as well. Here are some of the most common myths, related to skin cancer:

• People with dark skin are not at risk for sun damage or skin cancer:

It is considered that people with lighter skin are more prone to skin cancer, while people with darker skin are safe. Although people with darker skin are comparatively safer, in no way is their skin completely safe from skin cancer or damage caused due to the sun’s rays. People with darker skin too need to take care of their skin, especially when they are stepping out in the sun, and they too need to invest in good quality sunscreen. As a matter of fact, darker people face greater danger, because detecting skin cancer in them is much tougher and in many cases, the diagnosis comes a little too late.

• Simply because there are not too much outdoor activities in one’s routine, they have less risk for skin cancer:

You might not be someone who spends hours outdoors, but you would obviously step out for a few minutes each day. This could be to send your child to school or purchase groceries; it could even be the time you take to walk from the car park into the mall. Adding up all these tiny amounts of times of sun exposure would be enough to lead to skin damage. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that brief amounts of time spent outdoors, between 10 am and 4 pm, are more than enough to cause squamous cell cancer. Although squamous cell cancer might not be as severe or serious as melanoma, it can become extremely difficult to treat, if not caught in time.

• Those who are out in the snow, skiing or snowboarding need not wear sunscreen, because during the winter months, the sun is not strong enough:

The winter months are the most dangerous, because during the summers, people knowingly take all the required protection, such as hats, clothing and sunscreen. However, during the winter months, the sun provides a sense of warmth that most people enjoy, but little do they realise that the sun is still powerful enough to cause damage. In addition, when you are out on the white snow, the rays of the sun tend to get reflected, leading to greater chances of skin cancer. This is why sunscreen is just as important in the winter months.

• If the day is cloudy, you can skip the sunscreen:

Simply because the sun is not visible does not mean that it is not there or that it cannot cause any damage. Even when the sun is hidden behind the clouds, the ultraviolet rays are able to penetrate and they can cause much damage to your skin. While you might not feel the heat of the sun as much, there is still the chance of you getting a sunburn. This is why, even on a cloudy day, you need to make sure that you wear plenty of sunscreen and have protective clothing when stepping out.

• All sunscreens are the same:

While most people think that sunscreens that have a sun protection factor or SPF of 30 is the best, there are actually several levels to this protective lotion too. Understanding the same is the first step towards being sun safe. For starters, if you do not apply ample amount of sunscreen or apply it incorrectly, then even the most powerful sunscreen might not be enough. If you are someone who does not like to slather on sunscreen, then it would make sense to invest in a higher grade. People who spend greater amount of time in the sun and tend to sweat a lot will have to apply more sunscreen.

• It is only UVB radiation that can lead to skin damage and cancer:

Both UVA and UVB are dangerous and can lead to damaged skin, which is why you need to look for a sunscreen that provides protection against both.

• Tanning will reduce the chance of getting skin cancer:

Simply because you are someone who gets tanned and not sunburnt, does not mean that you will not get skin cancer. The very fact that you are getting tanned means that your skin has been altered. When the colour of your skin changes, it is an indication of damage and studies have shown that more the tanning on your skin, the greater the chances of you getting cancer! When your skin has been exposed to too much sun, there is an increase in the amount of melanin and this could lead to melanoma. Some of the other problems would include wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation.

• Cut off a mole that looks suspicious and you will be safe from cancer:

A mole might look bad and cutting it off could provide you with a cosmetic solution that makes you happy. However, in many cases, the mole is actually step one to skin cancer, which is why, the moment you see a suspicious mole, it would be best that you head to a dermatologist, who will be able to decipher the same.