Don’t Let This Northwest Weather Fool You

In the past decade, (2011-2021) the deadliest type of skin cancer, killing more than two people per hour, has risen by 44 percent. 😢

Skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. Prolonged exposure to UV rays (4+ hours of ultraviolet radiation) puts you at risk of developing skin cancer (90 percent of all non melanoma skin cancer cases are caused by the sun.)

However, there’s no beach necessary to increase this risk! In fact, you can get double the amount of UV rays in the water and snow.

Washington outranks California, Florida and Arizona in skin cancer rates.

 

This post offers tips that will help you reduce the risk of harming your largest organ (your skin) in the Inland Northwest.

Am I At Risk?

You should be especially cautious if you have:

  • Light or fair skin
  • Naturally blonde or red hair
  • Freckles or Moles
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Had Skin Cancer previously
  • A compromised immune system
  • Medication(s) that make you sensitive to light
  • Had 5 or more sunburns
  • Have been a recipient of an organ transplant

Does Age Make a Difference?

One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. Sun damage is cumulative, however, so your risk of developing skin cancer gets greater with age.

Ages     Average Accumulated Sun Exposure*
1-18       23 percent
19-40       47 percent
41-59       74 percent
60-78       100 percent
*Based on a 78-year life span

Prevention

There are more than a few ways to lower your risk of developing skin cancer in there in the Inland Northwest.

  • Limit or avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM when the sun’s rays are strongest

Cover up, seek shade and wear clothing with an SPF 50 sun protective fabric rating. Always wear a wide brimmed hat that shades your face, ears and neck as well as UV protective sunglasses.

  1. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen throughout the year that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation

Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent.  Reapply at least 1 ounce of sunscreen to your entire body every 2 hours or every hour after heavy sweating or being in the rain or water.

  • Say no to indoor tanning

We know it’s hard to get that glowing bronze here in the northwest (and vitamin D!), but people who use a tanning bed or sun lamps before the age of 35 ar

e 59 percent greater risk of melanoma. 

Indoor tanning devices can emit UV radiation in amounts 10 to 15 times higher than the sun at its peak intensity! 😵 Sunless tanning sprays and lotions are a great alternative.

  • Examine the skin regularly. 

This should include examinations by a health care professional and self-examinations. Only 20 to 30 percent of melanomas are found in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on apparently normal skin, so a professional examination is crucial to preventing skin cancer.

 Learn more about how to do a self-examination from cancer.net

  • If you’ve previously had Skin Cancer, take Vitamin B3

In research, taking 500mg of nicotinamide as a tablet twice daily showed a reduction in melanoma skin cancers by 23 percent in people who had 2 or more previous skin cancers. Talk with your doctor before taking any supplements.

Has it been more than six months since your last examination? 

Call the office to schedule your next appointment! We can’t wait to see you and help you be healthy, happy and safe!

Learn about the different types of skin cancer and how we treat and cure them, here.