Home / Women Health / skin cancer

skin cancer

With the summer holidays approaching find out how to prevent yourself and your family
from the risk of skin cancer.

Keep out of the sun when it is at its most intense as sunburn can double your risk of skin cancer. The sun is at its strongest in the middle of the cloy, between 11am and 3pm. During this time, stay in the shade when you can.

Clothing
If there’s no shade, the best way to protect your skin is with clothing. At least wear a T shirt, hat and sunglasses. Remember that the sun will reflect from the surface of water. So if you are in or near water, you are much more likely to burn. You should cover up or use sun cream that is at least factor 15 and preferably water resistant.

The amount of protection you get from your clothes varies depending on the type of material. The closer the weave of the fabric, the more likely it is to keep the sun off. Thin, loose weave fabrics such as cheesecloth give very little protection. Close weave cotton IT shirt material) gives quite good protection.
Wear a hat with o brim to protect both your face and the back of your neck. Babies and children should always wear brimmed hats in the sun. Baseball caps may look smart, but they leave the bock oldie neck and ears completely exposed.

Protect Your Eyes
Wear good quality, wrap around sunglasses Wrap arounds stop the sun From getting in al the sides. Buy these for children too – toy sunglmses can do more harm than good. When choosing sunglasses, look out for a label saying the glasses give 100% UV protection.

Sun Creams
Some doctors and researchers think !hi sun creams could be harmful because they encourage people to stay out in the sunshine for longer. They think that the proteciion the creams give you against burning may not actually stop people increasing their risk of skin cancers. The only way to be absolutely sure of reducing skin cancer risk is to avoid over exposing your skin to the sun. Cheap sunblocks are usually just as good as expensive ones. They are all tested the same way and it is the level of protection they give you against the sun that matters most. This is the ‘sun protection factor’ or SPF. Most creams will lost about 2 or 3 years. so it is OK to use last yeor’s, but not a bottle from 5 years ago! Broad Spectrum.
The SPF tells you the amount of protection the sun cream gives against UVB radiation. We recommend at least factor .This is because it gives the best balance between protection and cost.
The higher factor creams are more expensive, but do not give much more protection than factor 15. If you use Factor 15, only 7% of the harmful UVB rays will get through; Factor 30, only 4% of the harmful UVB rays will get through; Factor 60, only 2% of the harmful UVB rays will get through.
So you can see, you are getting some more protection with the most expensive creams, but not that much more. There is no sun cream that can give you total protection. 98% protection ‘with factor 60) is about the best you will get.
Don’t assume that because you have put on sun cream, you can stay out without burning. lt is best to use waterproof sun cream because it is less likely to be sweated or washed off.
Even if they say they ore waterproof, they may come off when you are swimming. In order lo get the best protection, you must retapply them often – at least every two hours. And more frequently i; it is washed, rubbed or sweated off.

You must apply sun creams thickly. Nearly everyone puts them on much too thinly and so they don t get as much protection as is specified on the bottle. You should be able to see and spread it very easily. If it all disappears as soon as you Mad rubbing it on, you haven’t used enough. About o golf boll sized dollop should do for small children.
If your whole family only uses one bottle throughout a 2 week holiday, you definitely aren i putting it on thickly enough. We know it can be expensive, but it is important to get the protection that you should. It is better to buy more and put it on properly.
There are no laws lo make manufacturers test sun creams. But there are laws about what they can say about them.
If they soy a sun cream has o particular SPF, it must have been tested, because the manufacturer has to be able to produce the evidence supporting its claim. If a company were to claim that their product had been tested when it hadn’t, they would be breaking the law.
Vitamin
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. ow levels of vitamin D for long periods >f time can lead to rickets in young .3eople (which makes the bones bend), 3nd osteoporosis if you are older (which causes bone thinning and increases the risk of fractures). Some studies say that if you are low in vitamin D. you have a higher risk of getting bowel cancer.

You can get vitamin D from your diet and from sunlight. It is added to some margarines and breakfast cereals, and can be found in fatty fish like salmon or sardines. Sunlight stimulates your skin lo make vitamin D.
Some people worry that they may not gel. You should put your sun cream on before you go in the sun. Then put on another layer to make sure you haven’t missed any bits. Put it on before moisturizer, make up or insect repellent.

Check Your Skin
If is important that you make a habit of regularly checking your own skin. If you find any abnormalities on the skin that don’t go away after 4 to 6 weeks, or existing ones that are getting bigger, you should get your GP to look at them.
We get much of our sun exposure by the age of 21. Children are often too busy running around to worry about looking after their skin. Keep an eye on your children’s skin at all times. They have thinner, more delicate skins than adults and are at higher risk of burning. But vigilant teachers and parents can make o real difference.

About Sara