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Prevent Skin Cancer and Look Younger, Longer

Get the facts so you can stay healthy and gorgeous for life.

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Prevent Skin Cancer and Look Younger, Longer

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.

More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other forms of cancer combined.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer; it is estimated that 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the US. BCCs are rarely fatal, but can be highly harming if allowed to grow.

MORE: Young Skin From the Neck Down

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer; an estimated 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old. One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.

The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.

MORE: Staving Off Sunburn

The most important reason for vigilant sun protection is preventing cancer, but of course the sun also does some unwelcome things to your skin.

  • Your pores will get bigger. People think that pore size is genetic; it’s not. Over time, the pores of people who tan a lot will hypertrophy and increase in width, creating a rough, patchy texture on your skin.
  • Your other skin conditions will get worse. The sun can irritate skin conditions like eczema, melasma, vitiligo and even acne. This can cause tone changes that range from hyperpigmentation to scarring.
  • Get ready for wrinkles. Between UVB rays and UVA rays, it’s the latter that cause premature aging of the skin. And, contrary to popular belief, people who have more melanin in their skin are not immune to their effects.

Easy, everyday sun care tips can make a big difference down the road for your looks and health. No one is immune to skin cancer, so no matter how careful you are, if you notice a mole or mark that looks suspicious, see your doctor immediately.

MORE: Sun-damaged Skin Looks Older

  • Slather up. Rain or shine, apply sunscreen every day. My darker-skinned patients think they’re automatically protected, and they’re not. They need to apply an SPF of at least 30 in the morning, and then again throughout the day.
  • Don’t rely on tinted moisturizers. Remember that foundations and tinted moisturizers with SPF are makeup, meaning that you apply it heavier to some areas and lighter to others. For full sun protection, use a mattifying, oil-free sunscreen underneath any face makeup.
  • See your dermatologist annually. YouBeauty readers revealed that a whopping 85 percent of you haven't had a full-body skin check from a dermatologist in the past year. Seeing a dermatologist annually is important and could even save your life. Just don’t be burned when you come! In order to best analyze your skin, doctors need to see your skin as close as possible to its natural tone. This will allow him or her to get a better look at any abnormalities.
  • Spray your feet. In addition to applying to your ears, nose, back, shoulders and knees, be sure to get your feet. People get accidentally burned in these places most often, because this is where the sun is hitting them when they go outside for lunch. Keep a spray sunscreen and an easy-to-apply stick sunscreen at your desk and apply to these spots 30 minutes before escaping your cubicle for lunch.
  • Keep sunscreen in the car. The biggest hurdle to applying sunscreen regularly is overcoming behavioral barriers. Keep face and body block in your car so that you have it handy whenever you feel the need for application. Over time, you’ll just get accustomed to reapplying frequently. 
  • Don’t rationalize tanning with a need for vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies have been a hot topic in the dermatology world. Some people think that if they’re deficient, they have license to sit in the sun, but one person dies from melanoma every 62 minutes. Get your daily vitamin D from oral supplements and eating well.

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