This weekend, my daughter and I went to a pool party. I was wearing: long white pants, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and approximately 10 gallons of SPF 45. Obviously, I looked amazing.
This is what happens when you’re a fair-skinned redhead and burn the moment the sun rises. I must admit, though—as much as I hate having legs so white they blind people, it is sort of a blessing. Sunscreen is not optional for me. As a result, I’ve had to be responsible about my skin all my life.
If I’d been born with my daughter’s skin, I might have been more daring. She has the most gorgeous olive-colored skin I’ve ever seen, and doesn’t seem to burn. Putting sunscreen on a toddler is no fun at all (it’s sort of like trying to catch a fish with your hands), but it’s 100 percent worth the effort—she may not burn easily, but it’s simply too dangerous to go without protection.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world and more than 2 million cases will be diagnosed this year. Consider the statistics:
- One bad sunburn doubles your chances of developing melanoma.
- Melanoma is the second most common cancer in children and teens, and one of the most common in young adults.
- Fair skin and red hair mean you have a higher risk of getting skin cancer.
- You’re also at a higher risk if you have more than 50 moles, a weakened immune system, or a family history of skin cancer.
- Tanning beds are very dangerous: One indoor tanning session in young adults increases melanoma risk by 20 percent. The risk of basal cell carcinoma increases by 25 percent after only one to two indoor tanning sessions. The risk soars to 73 percent after six or more sessions.
The statistics are depressing, but the good news is, you can help yourself (and others):
- Wear sunscreen. No excuses. Yes, it’s a pain to apply, but it’s worth it. I like a spray sunscreen– it makes application a lot easier.
- Avoid the sun during peak hours. Never use tanning beds.
- Check your own skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation’s step-by-step guide tells you how.
- Have a doctor check your skin. Visit a dermatologist if you find a rough, sandpaper-like patch, discover a new mole, or have a mole that has changed color, shape, or has started bleeding.
Now that you know how to protect yourself, help others. What we know about skin cancer is, for the most part, because of the work of skin cancer-focused organizations. Give today so they can continue their work, saving millions of lives.
- American Academy of Dermatology supports research, funds a summer camp for kids with skin disease, and educates the public.
- Skin Cancer Foundation funds public education, early detection programs, medical seminars and groundbreaking research.
- The Pediatric Sun Protection Foundation targets childhood skin cancer, which is on the rise. A new charity, they specifically focus on raising awareness about sun safety for kids.
You can also help with cancer research yourself. I recently signed up to participate in Cancer Prevention Study-3 through the American Cancer Society. If you’re between the ages of 30 and 65 and have never had cancer, please sign up for this long-term study. We will only stop cancer if we continue to support research, and fund programs searching for a cure.
Enjoy your summer…and don’t forget that SPF!
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager