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Staying safe in the sun

Skin cancer is the No. 1 cancer diagnosis in the United States – it’s more common than breast, prostate, and lung cancers combined. Sarah Arron, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Dermatology at UCSF, shares her thoughts on skin cancer prevention and helps separate the facts from the hype.

Which SPF?

The sun protection factor (SPF) number indicates the time it will take for UVB rays to redden your skin. I tell my patients to choose SPF 30 or higher because most people do not apply sunscreen as directed.

SPF moisturizer?

These are a great idea! It’s important that you like wearing the sunscreen enough to make it a part of your daily routine.

Eyes and lips?

Wear lip balm with SPF 15 and sunglasses with UV blockers in the lenses.

If being in the sun makes me happy, why should I protect myself from it?

Sun exposure can boost mood, and that makes sunshine addictive for some people. We like to rationalize that addiction by saying it must be healthy if it makes us feel or look good. But it’s not.

There is no such thing as a healthy tan, even though the tanning bed industry promotes its products that way. Until we dismiss the idea of a “healthy” tan, we’ll continue to see an epidemic of skin cancer in this country.

Are there other ways to prevent skin cancers?

Seek the shade and avoid outdoor activities during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sports enthusiasts can go out in the early morning, take a break, and go out again later in the afternoon.

You can also buy UV protective clothing, including hats (in many styles), swim tights, swim shirts, sleeves for tennis players, and more.

Read the full story from UCSF News.

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