MAY 27, 2022 3:00 AM PDT

Don't Forget the Sunscreen!

WRITTEN BY: Katie Kokolus

Skin cancer is the most diagnosed type of cancer; however, about 99% of skin cancers are “non-melanoma skin cancers.”  Non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal or squamous cell skin cancers, have a very low mortality rate in contrast to invasive melanoma, which, when diagnosed at a late stage, has only a 30% survival rate

In 1998, The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP) emerged as a resource for skin cancer prevention.  The NCSCP consists of 45 organizations working to prevent skin cancer by education, advocacy, and raising awareness.  

The NCSCP has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as an annual event to raise awareness of skin cancer which they have designated as “Don’t Fry Day .” Today (May 27th) marks Don’t Fry Day 2022 and presents an excellent opportunity to explore this unique strategy to promote sun safety and prevent skin cancer. The NCSCP website provides tools for “non-profit organizations, local, state, and federal governments, public health professionals, and educators to promote the importance of skin cancer prevention and sun-safety behaviors.” 

Shining a light (pun intended) on sun safety is extremely timely as the rate of melanoma has been rising for decades, particularly in older individuals.  Nearly 100,000 new cases of melanoma are estimated in the United States in 2022, and experts project that the global melanoma rate will increase another 50% by 2040. 

Invisible ultraviolent (UV) radiation causes sun damage, including sun burn, to the skin.  While some skin tones may be prone to tanning and less likely to burn, tanning can still cause sun damage. 

We all could use a little sun in our life, especially during this time of year, when many regions experience warmer weather and some fun activities move outdoors.  Sun exposure does have health benefits, including reduced emotional distress, improved mood (mediated by increased serotonin levels), and vitamin D (also known as the “sunshine vitamin”). 

Given the benefits of catching a few rays this summer, it is important to remember sun safety tips.  The CDC recommends seeking shade and wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.  The FDA suggests staying out of the sun during mid-day, when the sun’s rays are the strongest.   Further, a thick layer of a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays can significantly protect the skin from sun damage. 

So, as we enter Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer: don’t fry!  Enjoy the time you can spend outdoors- just don’t forget the sunscreen!

 

Sources: NCSCP, CA, ACS, JAMA Network, J Effect Disord, Innov Clin Neurosci, Int J Environ Res Public Health

About the Author
PhD
PhD in Tumor Immunology. I am interested in developing novel strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapies used to extend cancer survivorship.
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