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Don't Get Burned by Fun in the Sun

Skin cancer can be the price

FRIDAY, July 30, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- With a million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year in the United States, sun-safety efforts have become downright fashionable. For many people, wide-brimmed hats and designer sunscreens are now must-haves for the beach and elsewhere.

Sun-worshipping itself has failed to fall out of fashion, however, with experts warning that many people still don't take enough precautions to protect their skin against damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays.

If big hats aren't quite your style, even a baseball cap can help keep the sun off your face when there's no shade to be found, suggests the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

If there is shade, try to stay in it if possible, especially during the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest, adds the American Cancer Society.

And even if you don't plan on being in the sun for long, it's a good idea to get in the habit of wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Don't forget lip balm, too -- also with an SPF of 15 or higher.

It's especially important to cover up children, because about 80 percent of sun damage to the skin typically occurs before the age of 18, says the AAD. Fair-skinned people who burn easily are at particular risk for skin cancer and should be diligent about protecting their skin.

Finally, one of the most important keys to successfully treating skin cancer is early detection. Doctors strongly recommend regularly checking your body from head to toe -- even on the scalp and under the hair -- for any suspicious moles or skin discolorations.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers more tips on sun safety.

SOURCES: American Cancer Society, American Academy of Dermatology
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