in the spotlight

Seek Shade This Summer

Did you know. . . each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon? Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Below are guidelines to help you prevent skin cancer:

Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.

Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she had had five or more sunburns at any point in life.
Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned indoors. Tanning bed users are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with densely woven and bright- or dark-colored fabrics, which offer the best defense.

Sunscreen Products. A new report by Consumer Reports shows that many sunscreen products may not offer as much protection to your skin as advertised. The report finds that even if you lather on and reapply certain sunscreens, you still might not be protected, certainly not to the extent the product promises. Sixty lotions, sprays and sticks with SPF claims of 30 or higher were tested. Twenty-eight of them failed to meet the SPF claim on the label. Three of them fell far short with tests showing an SPF of less than 15.

“We are suggesting you look for a sunscreen that has chemical active ingredients of at least an SPF of 40,” said Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports. “In an analysis of four years of our sunscreen testing we found that those sunscreens are going to give you the best chance of getting an SPF.”

Consumer Reports found that some sunscreens live up to their promises including La Roche-Posay Anthelios, No-Ad Sport, Pure Sun Defense, Trader Joe’s Spray, Carribean Breeze Mist, and Equate Sport Spray. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. One six-ounce bottle of sunscreen should provide two full days of sun protection for prolonged outdoor activity.

Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams shouldn’t replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately. To find out more about how to perform self-examination and spot a skin cancer, visit

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