Skin cancer can be deadly. Melanoma, one of the three kinds of skin cancer, can be life threatening when untreated. The 2017 data of the American Cancer Society revealed that melanoma is one of the most common forms of cancer. It has more than 87,000 new cases and 9,700 estimated deaths.
The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable. Around 70 percent of known causes of cancers are related to lifestyle and can be avoided. There are habits that can dramatically lower the risk of skin cancer and here are some of them:
- Use sun protection cream for the face and body. A new research suggests that sun creams do not only protect the skin from damage. They also have anti-aging benefits. What to look for when buying sunscreens? Look for creams that have SPF of 15 or higher. However, avoid sun creams that have SPF rating over 30. Consider ones that have the light formula and are non-greasy. When swimming, it is best to invest in creams that are sweat and water-resistant. Apply the cream 30 minutes before going outside and reapply when going in the water.
- Cover the skin. Experts recommend wearing sun-safe clothing. These are clothes made of tightly woven fabric to protect the skin from UV rays. Aside from fabric, the amount of protection is also measured by the weave, weight, color, and amount of skin covered by the cloth. Wear clothes that cover the arms and legs. Use broad-brimmed hats that shade the face and ears. Use close-fitting wraparound sunglasses.
- Limit sun exposure. The sunshine may be the best way to maximize one’s Vitamin D. But too much sun exposure can also be a bad thing. Sunburn causes damage to the cells. When the DNA is damaged, skin cancer is more likely to occur. New research findings revealed that the best time to go out in the sun is during the middle of the day. So it is not a matter of avoiding the sun by 10 to 2 pm, but identifying how long to spend in the sun. A 20-minute sun exposure is recommended to get enough vitamin D.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidant. This substance is known to help protect the skin from cellular damage caused by the sun’s UV radiation. Fruits and green leafy vegetables are the best antioxidants. Berries such as Goji berries, wild blueberries, Cranberries, and Elderberries have relatively high amounts of antioxidants. A cup of blueberries provides 13,427 total antioxidants which are ten times the recommended amount. Artichoke, pecans and dark chocolate are also great antioxidant sources.
- Drink coffee. Ernest Abel, professor of OB-GYN at Wayne State University says coffee’s antioxidants can possibly help to protect against skin cancer. The compounds in coffee are believed to reduce the risk of melanoma.
Aside from these daily habits, experts also advise avoiding indoor tanning. Countries like Brazil, France, and Portugal have made tanning completely illegal for 18 years old and below because it can be quite dangerous. The UV light coming from tanning beds can damage the genetic material of the skin cells and can later cause melanoma.
As the old adage goes, prevention is always better than cure. Follow the tips above and lower your risk of getting skin cancer. Ultimately, these will actually help you enjoy the outdoors more because you are always in good health.