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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Melanoma Awareness

I only recently learned that May was Melanoma Awareness month. So while I might be a bit behind in the promotion, I think it's important to visit the topic. Melanoma only accounts for 4-5% of cancers, but is one of the fastest growing cancers and considered to be one of the most deadly if left untreated.

I found some important--and easy--steps to take in order to prevent melanoma. Taken from the Melanoma Research Foundation website:

Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin—even on cloudy days—year-round.
  • Be sure to use a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Look for ingredients in your sunscreen such as titanium dioxide and mexoryl, which block UVA rays better.
  • Use enough sunscreen. To protect your entire body, use approximately an ounce of sunscreen (about a full shot glass) and apply it at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Re-apply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating, even if the bottle says it’s waterproof or long lasting.
  • Remember, wearing sunscreen is not a blank check for spending unlimited time in the sun. Sunscreen is just one component of sun safety.
*Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
*Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
*Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
*Do not burn. Severe sunburns, especially during childhood, increase your risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancer. Just one blistering sunburn can double your chances of developing melanoma later in life.
*Avoid intentional tanning and indoor tanning beds. Current research indicates there is no way to get a tan through ultraviolet exposure without increasing the risk for skin cancer.
*Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
*Be aware of medications that can increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs have the ability to make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

One other incredibly simple thing to do is buy a UV Awareness bracelet. These bracelets change colors from opaque to bright colors when exposed to UV light. These are the best reminders for a cloudy day. I honestly don't remember that cloudy days can have more UV rays than a sunny day. I don't think of sunscreen if it's not sunny.

I know that UV changing beads are found at most local hobby and craft stores and you (and your children) can string your own bracelet. If your local craft store doesn't carry, you can order the beads online here:
Magic UV Beads, 250pcs. Color-change solar pony beads for craft making & kid style.
Value Pack Magic Color-Changing Pony Beads 6X9mm 170/Pkg - 170/Pkg
If you would like a pre-made one, they are all over the web. Here were some of the least expensive ones I found on the web:
UVSunSense UV Monitoring Wristbands: 7 Pack (This is a 7 pack but the cost is only slightly more than one bracelet at other websites.)
Glitter UV Rainbow Bracelets 1 Doz

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