One in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, making it the most common cancer in the U.S. While the majority of cases of skin cancer are fully treatable, some are not, and approximately 7,000 people die from the disease every year. Here’s what you need to know to help reduce your chances of developing skin cancer.
Know What to Look For
Catching it early is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from skin cancer progressing and becoming fatal. Check your own skin regularly from head to toe using the ABCDE rule to spot moles that might mean trouble if left untreated.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
As ultraviolet (UV) light is a major cause of skin cancer, your first line of defense is to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Avoid the sun during the harshest midday hours and when you are out, use a broad-spectrum SPF and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Skip the Tanning Salon
Tanning beds work by mimicking the sun, using UV light to darken the skin. There’s evidence that time in tanning beds increases the risk of all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, the rarest but most deadly kind. If you want to get that beautiful bronze glow, skip the tanning bed and opt for a spray tan or self-tanning lotion instead.
Eat Right to Strengthen Skin
UV damages skin by creating free radicals, molecules that cause damage at the cellular level. It’s impossible to prevent free radicals but it is possible to fight them with antioxidants, which help stabilize free radicals and prevent them from wreaking havoc. Increase your free radical-fighting power by eating foods high in antioxidants like berries, dark chocolate, pecans, and kidney beans.
See the Dermatologist If in Doubt
Call your dermatologist stat if you see something suspicious. You may also want to go to the dermatologist annually for a full-body screening, especially if you have a personal history or family history of skin cancer.