Most of us change our skincare routines with the change of the seasons. Winter calls for plenty of hydration and rich lotions, while summer might have us reaching for lighter moisturizers and acne-fighters. One thing that shouldn’t change, however? Using a sunscreen with at least SPF 30!
Did you know that Oregon has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the country? According to a recent study by the EPA, Oregon ranks fifth in the country for cases of melanoma, which is the type of skin cancer responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths. Between 2002 and 2006, melanoma was diagnosed in Oregon at a rate 36% higher than the national average. On average, 120 Oregonians die from melanoma every year (EPA.gov, 2010).
The high rates of skin cancer in Oregon are puzzling and complicated, but some experts think they are largely due to our population’s laissez-faire approach to sun protection during the winter months. Although we usually think of our grey state as relatively sun-less 8 months out of the year, up to 80% of UVA and UVB rays can penetrate cloud cover (Robins, SkinCancer.org, 2010). This risk can increase during your winter vacation, as snow reflects and intensifies UV rays. The snow’s reflection causes your skin to be exposed to those rays a second time, increasing exposure by up to 80%. Furthermore, UV radiation exposure increases as your altitude increases. UVA and UVB radiation exposure increases 4 to 5 percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level (Robins, SkinCancer.org, 2013).
If the health benefits of year-round sunscreen haven’t persuaded you, there are also major cosmetic benefits to making sure you’re covered by SPF year-round. A study published in 2013 in The Annals of Internal Medicine compared the aging process of a test group who wore sunscreen daily against a group who did not. The study found that test subjects who used sunscreen daily decreased the speed of the skin’s aging process by 24% compared to the group that did not (Hughes, Williams, Baker, & Green, 2013), showing us that wearing SPF daily can keep you healthy and beautiful!
We want you all to stay healthy, happy and cancer-free. So, in close, please take a minute to read over some other skin cancer prevention tips from the EPA website.
- Do Not Burn. Overexposure to the sun is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.
- Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds. UV light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling.
- Cover Up. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection, when possible.
- Seek Shade. Seek shade when the sun’s UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Watch for the UV Index. Pay attention to the UV Index when planning outdoor activities to prevent overexposure to the sun.
- Facts About: Skin Cancer. (2010, May). Retrieved February 03, 2017, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/or_facts_print.pdf
- Robins, P., MD. (2010, December 10). Skin Cancer Foundation. Retrieved February 03, 2017, from http://www.skincancer.org/publications/sun-and-skin-news/winter-2010-27-4/message-from-the-president
- Robins, P., MD. (2013, November 21). Skin Cancer Foundation. Retrieved February 09, 2017, from http://www.skincancer.org/publications/sun-and-skin-news/winter-2013-30-4/message
- Hughes, M. B., MMedSci, Williams, G. M., PhD, Baker, P., PhD, & Green, A. C., MBBS, PhD. (2013, June 04). Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging: A Randomized Trial. Retrieved February 03, 2017, from http://annals.org/aim/article/1691733/sunscreen-prevention-skin-aging-randomized-trial