Cancer experts warn that it is never too early to start thinking about cancer prevention. Since skin cancer is the most common form, with over 1 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, it’s a good idea for everyone to begin taking actions to prevent skin cancer as early as possible. While most cases affect people over the age of 40, there are certain types that afflict young people at higher rates. Plus, it is never too early to begin taking preventative measures. So, what types of things can we do now to prevent skin cancer?
1. First of all, ask any doctor, and she’ll say that smoking tobacco is the worst possible thing you can do not only for your skin, but for your health in general. Studies show that people who smoke are twice as likely to get cancer at some point in their lives, and this risk only gets worse when combined with other skin cancer-causing factors. So, if you want to prevent skin cancer, do yourself a favor and get rid of those cigarettes.
2. Many cases of skin cancer can be traced to damage to skin cell DNA caused by overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. You can help this situation in two ways: First, stay out of the sun as much as possible during the hours when it is most acute. Second, don’t hesitate to slather on the sunscreen any time you think you’re going to be out in the sun for more than a few minutes.
Also, remember that UV rays have nothing to do with temperature. They don’t care what season it is. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because it’s winter you’re at lower risk. To prevent skin cancer, use sunscreen in all seasons.
3. Alert your doctor to anything unusual that is happening with your skin. Even if you feel completely certain that it’s not cancerous, show your doctor any cuts, burns, moles, or rashes that don’t heal after a long time or are unusually irritated or itchy. After all, that’s what doctors are for, and it can’t hurt.