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Prevention: How Can I Protect Myself from Sun Damage?

More than 1 million people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in the United States. Skin cancer is largely preventable. Studies have shown that most skin cancers are linked to overexposure to sunlight (UV radiation). Therefore, good sun protection is an important way to prevent the development of both sun-related skin damage (freckles, fine wrinkles, etc…) and sun-related skin cancers.

Learn more about how Ultraviolet Radiation affects the skin.

Everybody, regardless of race or ethnicity, is subject to the potential adverse effects of overexposure to the sun. However, some types of skin might be more vulnerable then others.

Skin type affects the degree to which you burn and the time it takes you to burn. Fair skinned individuals who tend to burn rapidly and more severely are at the highest risk for developing skin cancer. Although darker skinned individuals are less likely to develop skin cancer, they can and do get skin cancer and should also protect their skin from overexposure to the sun.

The three elements to good sun protection are:

  1. Sun avoidance: protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun by staying in the shade or limiting the amount of time you spend in the sun, especially from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m when sunlight is most intense...more
  2. Sun protective clothing: Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, hats with broad brims, and sunglasses can effectively protect your skin from the sun. Some fabrics are more protective than others. Specialized UV protective clothing and hats are available...more
  3. Sunblock: When used properly, sunscreens may be an effective method of protecting yourself from the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation...more



Updated: May 4, 2007
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
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