Protect yourself from UV rays
Protecting skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation is a must year-round. UV rays cause skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States—and they do not stop causing damage when the weather turns cold.
UV radiation is also reflected or scattered by different surfaces. Snow, for example, can reflect as much as 80 percent of UV radiation, and UV levels increase significantly as elevation increases. Winter sports such as skiing can present UV exposure as intense as a day at the beach.
People taking winter cruises or tropical vacations should also use caution. Sand may reflect as much as 15 percent of UV rays, and sea foam as much as 25 percent. While the sun does not climb as high during the winter months, UV levels are still strong at midday, and the sun's intensity is highest near the equator.
"Skin cancer, especially melanoma, can be deadly," says Lily Lai, M.D., skin-cancer expert at City of Hope Cancer Center in Los Angeles. "Fortunately, skin cancers are preventable and highly curable if found and treated early."
Everyone is at risk of developing skin cancer but the following risk factors may increase the chances: having fair skin that freckles easily, living in warm climates with increased sun exposure or high elevation, occupational exposure such as working outdoors, overall lifetime exposure to the sun, and having many moles.
Tips to protect your skin from harmful UV rays all year-round:
- Avoid exposure to midday sun, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Whenever outdoors, use sunscreen with a sun protective factor of fifteen or higher. Reapply sunscreen every hour or two.
- Wear hats and long-sleeved shirts to block the sun's rays.
- Protect young children from the sun's rays.
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist to determine if your medication cause the skin to burn more easily.
- Avoid sun lamps and tanning booths.
"Having a tan, natural or artificial, is a sign that the skin has already been damaged," says Dr. Lai. “Using a sunless tanning lotion is the best way to add color without damaging your skin."
For more information about skin-cancer research and treatment at City of Hope, call 800-826-HOPE or visit www.cityofhope.org.
Report gives smokers many more reasons to quit
Smoking is now attributed to an even longer list of diseases, including leukemia, cataracts, pneumonia, and cancers of the cervix, kidney, pancreas and stomach, according to U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona’s comprehensive report on smoking and health released last month.
The report reveals for the first time that smoking causes diseases in nearly every organ of the body. New Mexicans who smoke may call the state’s toll-free help line at 1-877-44-U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848). Caring specialists from the National Cancer Institute answer calls Mondays through Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to help callers develop step-by-step personalized plans to help them quit smoking for good.
For more information, call 505-841-5843, or visit www.theStink.org.