When I first learned about skin cancer, over 20 years ago, I was surprised that my mom had it. She never sunburned but did enjoy basking in the sun’s rays. The day she was diagnosed completely changed the way I looked at sunscreen. I wear it year round. Now that I’m a mom, even my children know that they need sunscreen every single day, especially because we live in South Florida.
However, not everybody is aware of how common and preventable skin cancer is. Through my partnership with Baptist Health South Florida, I learned that many Hispanics believe they are protected from the sun because they have darker skin tones, according to an article published by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). What worries me even more is that so many Latinos indulge in indoor tanning before spending time in the sun, falsely assuming that this “base tan” will protect them. Indoor tanning puts everyone at higher risk for skin cancer. Everybody should stay away from tanning beds!
In case you didn’t know, more Americans than ever are being diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, according to data published in December in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Dermatology.
“While the incidence of Hispanics and African Americans getting melanoma is lower compared with Caucasian populations, darker-skinned people are not immune to melanoma,” said Coren Menendez, M.D., a family medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care. Even worse: Dr. Menendez says that melanoma among Hispanics and African Americans tends to be caught later, when it has spread to other parts of the body. “Moles can be hidden or ignored, leading to a later diagnosis, when the cancer may have already spread,” advises Dr. Menendez.
5 tips to prevent skin cancer
Here are t things you can do to prevent skin cancer :
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 daily. Reapply at least every two hours when outside (you need an ounce to cover most of the body.)
- Wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Avoid over-exposure to the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., if possible.
- Do monthly self-examinations of your skin and see a physician once a year for a professional screening exam.
- Stay away from tanning salons. Just one indoor tanning session can raise the risk of melanoma by at least 20 percent.
Find more tips and health information here.
Disclosure: this post is part of a sponsored collaboration with Baptist Health South Florida but all opinions are my own.