Skin Cancer: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe This Summer
By Danielle, age 16, New York
Summer is almost here!! (As a New York resident, we enjoy it all we can, because our summers aren't long!) Many of you are probably just as excited as I am, anticipating the last day of school and preparing for those fun days on the beach! Whether you swim, build sand castles, or just hang out, summer is the best time of year!
But despite those fun days in the sun, there is a serious problem affecting millions of people worldwide, and that number is increasing steadily. That problem is skin cancer. Skin cancer has become the most common form of cancer in the last few decades because people are using less and less protection! Let's face it, cancer is no laughing matter, and no matter how much you're dying to get that irresistible glowing tan, and applying that baby oil sure helps, roughly one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. 10,000 of those people will not survive.
Of course, there are people who will say, "Oh, it can never happen to me!" But it can - cancer doesn't discriminate! It can and often will happen to anyone who doesn't use appropriate protection. In fact, as much as one-third of the teenage population does not use skin protection.
You should apply sunscreen within 15-30 minutes before you go outside, and although it's hard, try to avoid the hottest parts of the day (between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm). Eighty percent of all skin cancer cases can be prevented with the use of skin protection. It is recommended that you should use a sunscreen or sunblock with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Believe it or not, certain types of fabric can help keep the sun's ultraviolet rays from burning your skin! Heavy fabrics such as denim and velvet can help protect your skin. Although it can get hot wearing these clothes it makes a huge difference. If you wear a denim jacket alone it has twice the effectiveness of sunscreen in blocking the sun's harmful UV rays. Wearing wide-brimmed hats can also help to keep your face protected, which gives you a reason to go shopping! Not to mention your huge pair of sunglasses which can help protect your eyes!
I'm sure some of you go to tanning booths or know someone who does, and we all know it's bad, but who doesn't love that tan!? It's estimated that 2.3 million teenagers use tanning booths yearly. (Personally, I don't use a tanning booth and I use proper sun protection.) But shockingly tanning booths increase your risk of getting malignant melanoma which is the deadliest type of skin cancer. The risk of getting malignant melanoma is increased by 75 percent for people who start using tanning booths before the age of 35!
I know these facts are scary, but it's the truth, and even if the truth hurts, it's worth it. It will protect you in the end. So I hope you all have a lovely, fun filled (and not a sunburned) summer!