Summer Fun in the Sun: Precautions Help Prevent Skin Cancer

Marshfield Clinic Expert Offers Tips on Protection; Prevention

May 26, 2005, 01:00 ET from Marshfield Clinic

    MARSHFIELD, Wis., May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Skin cancer, usually caused by
 overexposure to the sun, is the most common form of cancer. Luckily, it's one
 of the most treatable if caught early, and it's preventable with proper
     "From birth to old age, sun protection is important," says Diane Meyer,
 MD, a dermatologist with Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wis. "We get 80
 percent of our lifetime sun exposure during the first 18 years of life. In
 fact, a single, severe, blistering sunburn in childhood can double one's
 lifetime risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. So
 sun protection is very important, especially with kids."
     Meyer offers these sun protection tips:
     --  Sunscreen is just that - a screen from sun exposure, not an
         impenetrable barrier. It should be used as one part of an overall
         program to decrease sun exposure, rather than a misguided excuse to
         stay out in the sun indefinitely.
     --  Choose a product with an SPF rating of 15 or higher and re-apply every
         couple of hours.
     --  Sunscreens should be applied liberally, about 30 minutes prior to
         going outside, on all exposed areas of skin.
     --  Studies show that most people will put on inadequate amounts of
         sunscreen, unless they're told to use it generously.
     --  The most intense sun takes place in the middle of the day between the
         hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Even on cloudy days, harmful rays still
         get through.
     --  Infants up to six months of age should not be exposed to direct sun.
     --  Proper sun wear includes hats with a 3 to 4-inch brim to provide
         protection to the head, neck and face, sunglasses to protect eyes from
         sun exposure and light-colored, tightly woven clothing, to block the
         sun and reflect the heat.
     --  Sun is actually an immunosuppressant, which limits our skin's ability
         to fight off infection, including skin cancer and even cold sores.
     --  Some medications, including those for high blood pressure, can make us
         more sensitive to the harmful effects of the sun.
     --  Indoor tanning is worse than outdoor sun exposure. The intensity of
         UVA radiation from a tanning parlor is two more times as great as the
         amount you would get sunbathing at noon on the beach in summer.
     CONTACT: Chris Schellpfeffer or Sarah Kittel
              For Marshfield Clinic

SOURCE Marshfield Clinic