EXPOSURE TO ULTRAVIOLET (UV) RAYS
Exposure to the UV rays from the sun are a known source of skin cancer. They also cause wrinkles, premature ageing, and over time can cause cataracts in the eyes. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. The number of cases of skin cancer in Canada has increased by two-thirds since 1990. This change has been linked to the thinning of the ozone layer which protects us from both the UVA and UVB rays which reach the earth.
- Babies, children and the elderly are most at risk because of their thin skin.
- People with light skin or fair-coloured hair or eyes are also at greater risk of developing skin cancer.
- UVA and UVB rays both affect the skin differently.
- Both types of rays can penetrate clouds, fog and haze.
- When they are reflected by water, sand, concrete or snow, they are even more intense.
- The artificial UV rays emitted by tanning beds and sunlamps also intensify the strength of exposure.
- Being exposed to these artificial UV rays before the age of 35 significantly increases your risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
- Prolonged exposure to UV rays from any source can cause sunburn. This also increases your risk of developing skin cancer especially if it occurs early in life.
- A tan is not a sign of good health. It is the body’s way of protecting your skin from further damage. Even after the tan faded the damage remains.
- The best way to protect yourself from the sun is to wear protective clothing when working or playing outdoors. Long sleeved tops and pants, floppy hats and sunglasses, preferably wrap around style, which have both UVA and UVB protection, will reduce the intensity of the rays.
- Cover any exposed areas with a sunscreen of 15 SPF or higher. Use 30 to 50 SPF if you are working outdoors or will be outside for most of the day. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming or perspiring.
- Do not use sunscreens in a spray or powder form. The chemical ingredients can be inhaled causing other problems. Also it is too easy to miss an area.
- Use sunscreens which do not contain toxic chemicals which have been linked to cancer. The Environmental Working Group has a database of the toxicity of many products which have been rated for their safety.
- Avoid exposure to the sun between the hours of 11:00 am and 3:00 pm when UV rays are more intense.
- Babies under one year of age need extra protection because of their sensitive skin. Keep them covered up and provide them with shade.
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/live-well/sun-and-uv/?region=mbwww.cancer.ca
Environmental Working Group http://www.ewg.org/sunsafety/tips-practice-smart-sun.php