WEDNESDAY, May 25, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- This Friday, the start of the Memorial Day weekend, is also "Don't Fry Day," a time for skin-safety experts to remind Americans about the hazards of overexposure to sunlight.
Melanoma, the potentially deadly form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer among young adults in their late 20s, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, which joined forces to provide life-saving tips on sun safety. The main cause of skin cancer: overexposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
"Many people still do not realize that unprotected sun exposure can lead to skin cancer and other health problems," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, in an agency news release. "Simple steps, such as using sunscreen, putting on sunglasses or wearing a hat, can protect us and our families, while still enjoying the great outdoors."
Skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States, affects more than 2 million Americans each year -- more than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined, the EPA said. Every hour, one American dies from skin cancer, the agency noted.
Although UV rays are dangerous year-round, the risks are greatest in the summer months when people spend more time outside, McCarthy said.
To limit exposure to harmful UV rays, experts suggest you:
- Cover up. One of the most effective ways to reduce exposure to the sun's harmful rays is to wear a shirt, hat, sunglasses and SPF 15+ sunscreen.
- Find a shady spot. It's best to stay out of direct sunlight during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Be aware of the UV index. Before engaging in outdoor activities, check the UV index to identify the most risky times for overexposure to the sun.
The American Cancer Society offers additional tips on sun safety.