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Tips on how to protect your skin from UV radiation: BC Cancer

Summer heat is sweeping across British Columbia, and now more than ever is the time you should be looking out to protect yourself from the sun.

Every year, BC Cancer - Screening and Prevention releases its “Strive for Five” sun safety tips that should be incorporated into an everyday routine to help prevent skin cancer.

While there’s no problem spending a little extra time soaking up the sunshine, it’s important to remember that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can also increase the risk of skin cancer and there are so many ways to mitigate the risks.

“About 90% of skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which means that the majority of skin cancers are largely preventable,” said the BC Cancer Provincial Health Service Authority.

Skin cancer has the potential to affect everyone, and while people with lighter skin are more likely to develop melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, people with darker skin are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage, when it can be harder to treat.

So before hitting the beach, going out for a stroll, taking a long road trip, or leaving the house in general; keep these five things in mind.

  1. Check the UV Index daily

The UV Index can be found on any weather app or website and indicates the level of UV radiation and the potential danger of sun exposure.

Canada’s UV Index scale ranges from a low of zero to a high of 11+, meaning the higher the number the stronger the strength of the sun’s UV rays and the greater need to take proper precautions.

  1. Seek shade between 11 am and 3 pm daily

If you need to be outside, it’s important to get in the shade whenever you can, especially between 11 am and 3 pm when UV is the strongest.

Finding shade under trees, buildings, or even bringing along an umbrella is a great way to beat the heat.

  1. Cover up as much skin as possible

The best protection against the sun is a physical barrier between you and those UV rays.

Wearing a wide-brimmed hat that covers your nose, ears and neck can be extremely helpful, along with loose-fitting clothing like long sleeve shirts, skirts or pants is a great option.

Fabrics that have a tight weave with dark and bright colours like reds, can help to absorb more UV than lighter-toned fabrics.

  1. Wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection

Long hours in the sun without eye protection can increase your risk of cataracts, loss of vision and eye cancer.

For maximum protection, look for sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

  1. Slop on sunscreen

Of course last but not least, SUNSCREEN. One of the best tools for protecting yourself when out and about.

Using ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen and a minimum of SPF 30 is the way to go when you’re looking to avoid a burn.

BC Cancer – Screening and Prevention recommends a shot glass-sized amount for head-to-toe protection, along with re-applying every two hours.

Don’t forget those overlooked spots like the neck, ears and lips. If you’re planning on swimming using the waterproof stuff is best.

Think you’ve got it all done pact? You can even take their sun-savvy quiz here to put your UV knowledge to the test.

For more information on busting myths on sunscreen, tanning, vitamin D and more; head to the Strive for Five website here.

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